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1.  Evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency of wild bird surveillance for avian influenza 
Veterinary Research  2010;41(4):50.
This study aimed to assess which method of wild waterbird surveillance had the greatest probability of detecting highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 during a period of surveillance activity, the cost of each method was also considered. Lake Constance is a major wintering centre for migratory waterbirds and in 2006 it was the site of an HPAI H5N1 epidemic in wild birds. Avian influenza surveillance was conducted using harmonised approaches in the three countries around the lake, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, from 2006–2009. The surveillance consisted of testing birds sampled by the following methods: live birds caught in traps, birds killed by hunters, birds caught in fishing nets, dead birds found by the public and catching live Mute Swans (Cygnus olor); sentinel flocks of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were also used. Scenario tree analysis was performed including sensitivity analysis, followed by assessment of cost-effectiveness. Results indicated that if HPAI H5N1 was present at 1% prevalence and assuming HPAI resulted in bird mortality, sampling dead birds found by the public and sentinel surveillance were the most sensitive approaches despite residual uncertainty over some parameters. The uncertainty over the mortality of infected birds was an influential factor. Sampling birds found dead was most cost-effective, but strongly dependent on mortality and awareness of the public. Trapping live birds was least cost-effective. Based on our results, we recommend that future HPAI H5N1 surveillance around Lake Constance should prioritise sentinel surveillance and, if high mortality is expected, the testing of birds found dead.
PMCID: PMC2878168  PMID: 20409452
scenario tree analysis; surveillance; avian influenza; wild bird; cost-effectiveness
2.  Ducks as Sentinels for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(10):1633-1636.
To determine the effectiveness of ducks as sentinels for avian influenza virus (AIV) infection, we placed mallards in contact with wild birds at resting sites in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Infections of sentinel birds with different AIV subtypes confirmed the value of such surveillance for AIV monitoring.
PMCID: PMC2866406  PMID: 19861060
sentinel; avian influenza; active surveillance; wild birds; influenza; viruses; dispatch
3.  Establishing a cost-effective national surveillance system for Bluetongue using scenario tree modelling 
Veterinary Research  2009;40(6):57.
Vector-borne diseases pose a special challenge to veterinary authorities due to complex and time-consuming surveillance programs taking into account vector habitat. Using stochastic scenario tree modelling, each possible surveillance activity of a future surveillance system can be evaluated with regard to its sensitivity and the expected cost. The overall sensitivity of various potential surveillance systems, composed of different combinations of surveillance activities, is calculated and the proposed surveillance system is optimized with respect to the considered surveillance activities, the sensitivity and the cost. The objective of this project was to use stochastic scenario tree modelling in combination with a simple cost analysis in order to develop the national surveillance system for Bluetongue in Switzerland. This surveillance system was established due to the emerging outbreak of Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) in Northern Europe in 2006. Based on the modelling results, it was decided to implement an improved passive clinical surveillance in cattle and sheep through campaigns in order to increase disease awareness alongside a targeted bulk milk testing strategy in 200 dairy cattle herds located in high-risk areas. The estimated median probability of detection of cases (i.e. sensitivity) of the surveillance system in this combined approach was 96.4%. The evaluation of the prospective national surveillance system predicted that passive clinical surveillance in cattle would provide the highest probability to detect BTV-8 infected animals, followed by passive clinical surveillance in sheep and bulk milk testing of 200 dairy cattle farms in high-risk areas. This approach is also applicable in other countries and to other epidemic diseases.
PMCID: PMC2736541  PMID: 19607784
national surveillance system; cost-effective; scenario tree modelling; Bluetongue; Switzerland
4.  Concurrent Infections with Vector-Borne Pathogens Associated with Fatal Hemolytic Anemia in a Cattle Herd in Switzerland 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(8):3775-3780.
Bovine anaplasmosis is a vector-borne disease that results in substantial economic losses in other parts of the world but so far not in northern Europe. In August 2002, a fatal disease outbreak was reported in a large dairy herd in the Swiss canton of Grisons. Diseased animals experienced fever, anorexia, agalactia, and depression. Anemia, ectoparasite infestation, and, occasionally, hemoglobinuria were observed. To determine the roles of vector-borne pathogens and to characterize the disease, blood samples were collected from all 286 animals: 50% of the cows were anemic. Upon microscopic examination of red blood cells, Anaplasma marginale inclusion bodies were found in 47% of the cows. The infection was confirmed serologically and by molecular methods. Interestingly, we also found evidence of infections with Anaplasma phagocytophilum, large Babesia and Theileria spp., and Mycoplasma wenyonii. The last two species had not previously been described in Switzerland. Anemia was significantly associated with the presence of the infectious agents detected, with the exception of A. phagocytophilum. Remarkably, concurrent infections with up to five infectious vector-borne agents were detected in 90% of the ill animals tested by PCR. We concluded that A. marginale was the major cause of the hemolytic anemia, while coinfections with other agents exacerbated the disease. This was the first severe disease outbreak associated with concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens in alpine Switzerland; it was presumably curtailed by culling of the entire herd. It remains to be seen whether similar disease outbreaks will have to be anticipated in northern Europe in the future.
PMCID: PMC497630  PMID: 15297529
5.  Detection of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae by Air Sampling with a Nested PCR Assay 
This article describes the first successful detection of airborne Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae under experimental and field conditions with a new nested PCR assay. Air was sampled with polyethersulfone membranes (pore size, 0.2 μm) mounted in filter holders. Filters were processed by dissolution and direct extraction of DNA for PCR analysis. For the PCR, two nested pairs of oligonucleotide primers were designed by using an M. hyopneumoniae-specific DNA sequence of a repeated gene segment. A nested PCR assay was developed and used to analyze samples collected in eight pig houses where respiratory problems had been common. Air was also sampled from a mycoplasma-free herd. The nested PCR was highly specific and 104 times as sensitive as a one-step PCR. Under field conditions, the sampling system was able to detect airborne M. hyopneumoniae on 80% of farms where acute respiratory disease was present. No airborne M. hyopneumoniae was detected on infected farms without acute cases. The chance of successful detection was increased if air was sampled at several locations within a room and at a lower air humidity.
PMCID: PMC106080  PMID: 9464391

Results 1-5 (5)