Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Publication
    Eradicating BVD, reviewing Irish programme data and model predictions to support prospective decision making
    Bovine Viral Diarrhoea is an infectious production disease of major importance in many cattle sectors of the world. The infection is predominantly transmitted by animal contact. Postnatal infections are transient, leading to immunologically protected cattle. However, for a certain window of pregnancy, in utero infection of the foetus results in persistently infected (PI) calves being the major risk of BVD spread, but also an efficient target for controlling the infection. There are two acknowledged strategies to identify PI animals for removal: tissue tag testing (direct; also known as the Swiss model) and serological screening (indirect by interpreting the serological status of the herd; the Scandinavian model). Both strategies are effective in reducing PI prevalence and herd incidence. During the first four years of the Irish national BVD eradication programme (2013–16), it has been mandatory for all newborn calves to be tested using tissue tag testing. During this period, PI incidence has substantially declined. In recent times, there has been interest among stakeholders in a change to an indirect testing strategy, with potential benefit to the overall programme, particularly with respect to cost to farmers. Advice was sought on the usefulness of implementing the necessary changes. Here we review available data from the national eradication programme and strategy performance predictions from an expert system model to quantify expected benefits of the strategy change from strategic, budgetary and implementation points of view. Key findings from our work include (i) drawbacks associated with changes to programme implementation, in particular the loss of epidemiological information to allow real-time monitoring of eradication progress or to reliably predict time to eradication, (ii) the fact that only 25% of the herds in the Irish cattle sector (14% beef, 78% dairy herds) would benefit financially from a change to serosurveillance, with half of these participants benefiting by less than EUR 75 per annum at herd level or an average of EUR 1.22 per cow, and (iii) opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of the current programme, particularly in terms of time to eradication, through enforced compliance with PI removal as currently outlined in programme recommendations. The assembled information provides scientific arguments, contributing to an informed debate of the pros and cons of a change in eradication strategy in Ireland.
      464Scopus© Citations 30
  • Publication
    Decision support beyond total savings—Eligibility and potential savings for individual participants from changes in the national surveillance strategy for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in Ireland
    Surveillance and management of livestock diseases is often evaluated with reference to expected sector-wide costs. In contrast, we calculate losses or savings for individual herd owners of a change in monitoring strategy during a national cattle disease eradication programme: bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in Ireland. The alternative strategy differs in how the disease is identified; by its sample- rather than census-based approach; and by its greater cost per test. We examined the costs faced by each breeding herd if testing were conducted using serology on a sample of young stock, in contrast to the current method of tissue-tag testing of all newborn calves. Following best knowledge of the likely costs, the following input values were used: i) €2.50 per test for tissue-tag testing and €7.66 for serology, ii) serology conducted on a sample of 10 young stock per management group from either the 6–12 month or 9–18 month cohorts; iii) 3 scenarios for the number of management groups: one per herd (M∞), one per 100 cows (M100) and one per 50 cows (M50). We found that many herds would often not be able to supply a suitable sample of young stock for serology or would face higher testing costs than when using tissue tag testing. The largest number (25%) of herds would benefit from participating in the change if sampling were done in October. These could annually save between €2.1 million under M∞ and €0.8 million under M50 (€108 - €49 per herd). However, analysing herd-level data we found that 90% of all Irish breeding herds would save less than €1.42 per cow or €99 in total per annum under M∞ and €0.59 per cow or €36 in total under M50. In a sensitivity analysis, we allowed serology costs to vary between €2 and €10 per animal. Herds at the 10 t h percentile of most savings made from switching would save at most €155 (M∞ at €2 per serology test) but would not save anything under M50 at costs ≥ €10. We conclude that, under these assumptions, the expected reduction in testing costs for the majority of beneficiaries would barely outweigh the practical implications of the strategy switch or the risks to the eradication programme associated with sample based surveillance. This study does not assess the cost-effectiveness of alternatives post-eradication.
      283Scopus© Citations 3
  • Publication
    Combining expert knowledge and machine-learning to classify herd types in livestock systems
    A detailed understanding of herd types is needed for animal disease control and surveillance activities, to inform epidemiological study design and interpretation, and to guide effective policy decision-making. In this paper, we present a new approach to classify herd types in livestock systems by combining expert knowledge and a machine-learning algorithm called self-organising-maps (SOMs). This approach is applied to the cattle sector in Ireland, where a detailed understanding of herd types can assist with on-going discussions on control and surveillance for endemic cattle diseases. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the SOM algorithm has been used to differentiate livestock systems. In compliance with European Union (EU) requirements, relevant data in the Irish livestock register includes the birth, movements and disposal of each individual bovine, and also the sex and breed of each bovine and its dam. In total, 17 herd types were identified in Ireland using 9 variables. We provide a data-driven classification tree using decisions derived from the Irish livestock registration data. Because of the visual capabilities of the SOM algorithm, the interpretation of results is relatively straightforward and we believe our approach, with adaptation, can be used to classify herd type in any other livestock system.
      68Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Risk assessment of African swine fever in the south‐eastern countries of Europe
    The European Commission requested EFSA to estimate the risk of spread of African swine fever (ASF) and to identify potential risk factors (indicators) for the spread of ASF, given introduction in the south‐eastern countries of Europe (region of concern, ROC), namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. Three EU Member States (MS) – Croatia, Greece and Slovenia – were included in the ROC due to their geographical location and ASF‐free status. Based on collected information on potential risk factors (indicators) for each country and the relevant EU regulations in force, the estimated probability of spread of ASF within the ROC within one year after introduction into the ROC was assessed to be very high (from 66% to 100%). This estimate was determined after considering the high number of indicators present in most of the countries in the ROC and the known effect that these indicators can have on ASF spread, especially those related to the structure of the domestic pig sector, the presence of wild boar and social factors. The presence of indicators varies between countries in the ROC. Each country is at risk of ASF spread following introduction; however, some countries may have a higher probability of ASF spread following introduction. In addition, the probability of ASF spread from the ROC to EU MSs outside the ROC within one year after introduction of ASF in the ROC was estimated to be very low to low (from 0% to 15%). This estimate was based on the comparison of the indicators present in the ROC and the already affected countries in south‐eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria and Romania, where there was no evidence of ASF spread to other EU MS within one year.
      95Scopus© Citations 20
  • Publication
    Research gap analysis on African swine fever
    The most significant knowledge gaps in the prevention and control of African swine fever (ASF) were identified by the EU Veterinary services and other stakeholders involved in pig production and wild boar management through an online survey. The respondents were asked to identify the major research needs in order to improve short‐term ASF risk management. Four major gaps were identified: ‘wild boar’, ‘African swine fever virus (ASFV) survival and transmission’, ‘biosecurity’ and ‘surveillance’. In particular, the respondents stressed the need for better knowledge on wild boar management and surveillance, and improved knowledge on the possible mechanism for spread and persistence of ASF in wild boar populations. They indicated the need for research on ASFV survival and transmission from the environment, different products such as feed and feed materials, and potential arthropod vector transmission. In addition, several research topics on biosecurity were identified as significant knowledge gaps and the need to identify risk factors for ASFV entry into domestic pig holdings, to develop protocols to implement specific and appropriate biosecurity measures, and to improve the knowledge about the domestic pig–wild boar interface. Potential sources of ASFV introduction into unaffected countries need to be better understood by an in‐depth analysis of the possible pathways of introduction of ASFV with the focus on food, feed, transport of live wild boars and human movements. Finally, research on communication methods to increase awareness among all players involved in the epidemiology of ASF (including truck drivers, hunters and tourists) and to increase compliance with existing control measures was also a topic mentioned by all stakeholders.
      214Scopus© Citations 23
  • Publication
    Ad hoc method for the assessment on listing and categorisation of animal diseases within the framework of the Animal Health Law
    The European Commission has requested EFSA to assess animal diseases according to the criteria as laid down in Articles 5, 7, 8 and Annex IV for the purpose of categorisation of diseases in accordance with Article 9 of the Regulation (EU) No 2016/429 (Animal Health Law). This scientific opinion addresses the ad hoc method developed for assessing any animal disease for the listing and categorisation of diseases within the Animal Health Law (AHL) framework. The assessment of individual diseases is addressed in distinct scientific opinions that are published separately. The assessment of Articles 5, 8 and 9 criteria is performed on the basis of the information collected according to Article 7 criteria. For that purpose, Article 7 criteria were structured into parameters and the information was collected at parameter level. The resulting fact sheets on the profile and impact of each disease were compiled by disease scientists. A mapping was developed to identify which parameters from Article 7 were needed to inform each Article 5, 8 and 9 criterion. Specifically, for Articles 5 and 9 criteria, a categorical assessment was performed, by applying an expert judgement procedure, based on the mapped information. The judgement was performed by EFSA Panel experts on Animal Health and Welfare in two rounds, individual and collective judgement. The output of the expert judgement on the criteria of Articles 5 and 9 for each disease is composed by the categorical answer, and for the questions where no consensus was reached, the different supporting views are reported.                      
      98Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    The Irish cattle population structured by enterprise type: overview, trade & trends
    Background: The cattle sector is the most important economic production unit of the Irish farming and agri-food sector. Despite its relevance, there has been limited quantitative information about the structure of differing cattle production types and of the connections between them. This paper addresses this gap by providing, for the first time, an overview of the Irish cattle population structured by enterprise type. Methods & Results: We collected data from the cattle register for the period 2015 to 2019 and assigned registered herds to one of 18 different herd types using a recently published herd type classification approach. This allows, for the first time, to exploring changes in enterprise types and subtypes over time, and describing the movements between these subtypes and from these subtypes to slaughter. Conclusions: The overview and associated classification presented in this study will form the basis for a number of future comparative studies, including cross-sectoral assessments of profitability, estimation of the extent of animal health losses on Irish cattle farms or structural analysis of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions across production systems.
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