Pine wilt disease is a lethal tree disease caused by nematodes carried by pine sawyer beetles. Once affected, the trees are destroyed within a few months, resulting in significant environmental and economic losses. The role of asymptomatic carrier trees in the disease dynamics remains unclear. We developed a mathematical model to investigate the effect of asymptomatic carriers on the long-term outcome of the disease. We performed a stability and sensitivity analysis to identify key parameters and used optimal control to examine several intervention options. Our model shows that, with the application of suitable controls, the disease can be eliminated in the vector population and all tree populations except for asymptomatic carriers. Of the possible controls (tree injection, elimination of infected trees, insecticide spraying), we determined that elimination of infected trees is crucial. However, if the costs of insecticide spraying increase, it can be supplemented (although not replaced entirely) by tree injection, so long as some spraying is still undertaken.
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