Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
  • Publication
    Identification of risk factors associated with disclosure of false positive bovine tuberculosis reactors using the gamma-interferon (IFNγ) assay
    (Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.), 2013) ; ; ;
    The gamma-interferon assay (IFNγ) is often used as an ancillary diagnostic test alongside the tuberculin skin test in order to detect Mycobacterium bovis infected cattle. The performance of the IFNγ test has been evaluated in many countries worldwide and wider usage as a disease surveillance tool is constrained due to the relatively low and inconsistent specificity at a herd and area level. This results in disclosure of a higher proportion of false positive reactors when compared with the skin test. In this study, we used cohorts of animals from low prevalence tuberculosis herds (n = 136) to assess a range of risk factors that might influence the specificity of the test. Univariate and multivariate logistic generalised estimating-equation (GEE) models were used to evaluate potential risk factors associated with a false positive IFNγ test result. In these herds, the univariate model revealed that the region of herd origin, the time of year when the testing was carried out, and the age of the animal were all significant risk factors. In the final multivariate models only animal age and region of herd origin were found to be significant risk factors. A high proportion of herds with multiple IFNγ false positive animals were located in one county, with evidence of within-herd clustering, suggesting a localised source of non-specific sensitization. Knowledge of the underlying factors influencing the IFNγ test specificity could be used to optimize the test performance in different disease level scenarios in order to reduce the disclosure rate of false positive reactors.
      364Scopus© Citations 31
  • Publication
    Numbers of close contacts of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 and their association with government intervention strategies
    Background: Contact tracing is conducted with the primary purpose of interrupting transmission from individuals who are likely to be infectious to others. Secondary analyses of data on the numbers of close contacts of confirmed cases could also: provide an early signal of increases in contact patterns that might precede larger than expected case numbers; evaluate the impact of government interventions on the number of contacts of confirmed cases; or provide data information on contact rates between age cohorts for the purpose of epidemiological modelling. We analysed data from 140,204 close contacts of 39,861 cases in Ireland from 1st May to 1st December 2020. Results: Negative binomial regression models highlighted greater numbers of contacts within specific population demographics, after correcting for temporal associations. Separate segmented regression models of the number of cases over time and the average number of contacts per case indicated that a breakpoint indicating a rapid decrease in the number of contacts per case in October 2020 preceded a breakpoint indicating a reduction in the number of cases by 11 days. Conclusions: We found that the number of contacts per infected case was overdispersed, the mean varied considerable over time and was temporally associated with government interventions. Analysis of the reported number of contacts per individual in contact tracing data may be a useful early indicator of changes in behaviour in response to, or indeed despite, government restrictions. This study provides useful information for triangulating assumptions regarding the contact mixing rates between different age cohorts for epidemiological modelling.
      239Scopus© Citations 7
  • Publication
    Investigation of the association between the Enferplex bovine tuberculosis antibody test and the future risk of bovine tuberculosis in irish cattle in infected herds: a pilot field study
    The Single Intradermal Comparative Tuberculin Test (SICTT) and the interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) assay are the approved diagnostic tests for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Ireland. The aim of this pilot study was to explore if there was any added diagnostic benefit from applying the Enferplex bTB test (an antibody test) in severe bTB herd breakdowns after the removal of cattle that had tested positive to the SICTT and the IFN-γ test. In addition to the normal bTB testing and management protocols, the animals in these herds that tested negative to SICTT and the IFN-γ test were followed forward for a period of two years. All animals were tested by Enferplex at enrolment. The time to subsequent bTB detection (diagnosed with SICTT/IFN-γ tests or detection of visible lesions at routine slaughter) for animals that tested positive or negative to the Enferplex bTB test at the start of the study was compared using Kaplan–Meier survival curves and Cox based survival models. Of the 484 enrolled animals (from 11 herds), 171 (35.3%) and 151 (31.1%) initially tested positive in the Enferplex assay under the high sensitivity and high specificity interpretation settings respectively. The results of the survival analysis showed that there was no difference in the survival time to a positive diagnosis with bTB during the follow-up period between animals initially classified as positive and negative by the Enferplex test. Further research is warranted to explore the potential benefit of using the Enferplex test in other scenarios.
      59Scopus© Citations 2
  • Publication
    Characteristics of Mycobacterium bovis infected herds tested with the interferon-gamma assay
    The IFN-γ (interferon gamma) assay is used in Ireland as an ancillary diagnostic test to the single intradermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT) to maximise the detection of Mycobacterium bovis infected animals (bTB) in cattle herds. Understanding the relationships between herd and animal risk factors and IFN-γ test results is critical to enable the development and evaluation of policy measures on how best to use the test. In this study, we set out to characterise Irish herds with IFN-γ test positive animals in terms of herd size, number of SICTT reactors and number of IFN-γ positive tests, and to evaluate the IFN-γ test in terms of the test cut-off values. The results showed that larger herds with more SICTT reactors were likely to have more IFN-γ positives in the herd, and herds with an IFN-γ test positive animal that was also positive for bTB lesions at post-mortem had higher numbers of IFN-γ positive animals in the herd. Raising the cut-off values for the IFN-γ test only marginally decreased the combined sensitivity of the IFN-γ and the SICTT for diagnosis of bTB lesioned animals. The analysis has provided valuable information on the performance of the IFN-γ test as it is used under current bTB infection levels in Ireland.
      468Scopus© Citations 17
  • Publication
    Optimising and evaluating the characteristics of a multiple antigen ELISA for detection of Mycobacterium bovis infection in a badger vaccine trial
    A long-term research programme has been underway in Ireland to evaluate the usefulness of badger vaccination as part of the national bTB (bovine tuberculosis) control strategy. This culminated in a field trial which commenced in county Kilkenny in 2009 to determine the effects of badger vaccination on Mycobacterium bovis transmission in badgers under field conditions. In the present study, we sought to optimise the characteristics of a multiplex chemiluminescent assay for detection of M. bovis infection in live badgers. Our goal was to maximise specificity, and therefore statistical power, during evaluation of the badger vaccine trial data. In addition, we also aimed to explore the effects of vaccination on test characteristics. For the test optimisation, we ran a stepwise logistic regression with analytical weights on the converted Relative Light Units (RLU) obtained from testing blood samples from 215 badgers captured as part of culling operations by the national Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The optimised test was applied to two other datasets obtained from two captive badger studies (Study 1 and Study 2), and the sensitivity and specificity of the test was attained separately for vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers. During optimisation, test sensitivity was maximised (30.77%), while retaining specificity at 99.99%. When the optimised test was then applied to the captive badger studies data, we observed that test characteristics did not vary greatly between vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers. However, a different time lag between infection and a positive test result was observed in vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers. We propose that the optimized multiplex immunoassay be used to analyse the vaccine trial data. In relation to the difference in the time lag observed for vaccinated and non-vaccinated badgers, we also present a strategy to enable the test to be used during trial evaluation.
      248Scopus© Citations 9
  • Publication
    Advancing national animal health and welfare policy
    The University College Dublin (UCD) School of Veterinary Medicine has a broad research agenda covering areas such as veterinary public health, epidemiology and national disease control, herd health management, drug delivery, pharmacology, parasitology, and One Health research. We work with national and international collaborators and, with the support of Zoetis, have a longstanding “UCD Squared” partnership with the University of California-Davis, which has established an ambitious program of research, drawing on expertise from a diverse community of veterinary and medical scientists and clinicians.
  • Publication
    Estimation of the serial interval and proportion of pre-symptomatic transmission events of COVID-19 in Ireland using contact tracing data
    The serial interval is the period of time between the onset of symptoms in an infector and an infectee and is an important parameter which can impact on the estimation of the reproduction number. Whilst several parameters influencing infection transmission are expected to be consistent across populations, the serial interval can vary across and within populations over time. Therefore, local estimates are preferable for use in epidemiological models developed at a regional level. We used data collected as part of the national contact tracing process in Ireland to estimate the serial interval of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Irish population, and to estimate the proportion of transmission events that occurred prior to the onset of symptoms. Results After data cleaning, the final dataset consisted of 471 infected close contacts from 471 primary cases. The median serial interval was 4 days, mean serial interval was 4.0 (95% confidence intervals 3.7, 4.3) days, whilst the 25th and 75th percentiles were 2 and 6 days respectively. We found that intervals were lower when the primary or secondary case were in the older age cohort (greater than 64 years). Simulating from an incubation period distribution from international literature, we estimated that 67% of transmission events had greater than 50% probability of occurring prior to the onset of symptoms in the infector. Conclusions Whilst our analysis was based on a large sample size, data were collected for the primary purpose of interrupting transmission chains. Similar to other studies estimating the serial interval, our analysis is restricted to transmission pairs where the infector is known with some degree of certainty. Such pairs may represent more intense contacts with infected individuals than might occur in the overall population. It is therefore possible that our analysis is biased towards shorter serial intervals than the overall population.
      185Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Population estimation and trappability of the European badger (Meles meles): implications for tuberculosis management
    Estimates of population size and trappability inform vaccine efficacy modelling and are required for adaptive management during prolonged wildlife vaccination campaigns. We present an analysis of mark-recapture data from a badger vaccine (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) study in Ireland. This study is the largest scale (755 km²) mark-recapture study ever undertaken with this species. The study area was divided into three approximately equal-sized zones, each with similar survey and capture effort. A mean badger population size of 671 (SD: 76) was estimated using a closed-subpopulation model (CSpM) based on data from capturing sessions of the entire area and was consistent with a separate multiplicative model. Minimum number alive estimates calculated from the same data were on average 49-51% smaller than the CSpM estimates, but these are considered severely negatively biased when trappability is low. Population densities derived from the CSpM estimates were 0.82-1.06 badgers kmˉ², and broadly consistent with previous reports for an adjacent area. Mean trappability was estimated to be 34-35% per session across the population. By the fifth capture session, 79% of the adult badgers caught had been marked previously. Multivariable modelling suggested significant differences in badger trappability depending on zone, season and age-class. There were more putatively trap-wary badgers identified in the population than trap-happy badgers, but wariness was not related to individual's sex, zone or season of capture. Live-trapping efficacy can vary significantly amongst sites, seasons, age, or personality, hence monitoring of trappability is recommended as part of an adaptive management regime during large-scale wildlife vaccination programs to counter biases and to improve efficiencies.
      358Scopus© Citations 40