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1.  Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in Norwegian dairy goats 
Toxoplasma gondii is a major problem for the sheep industry as it may cause reproduction problems. The importance of T. gondii in Norwegian goat herds is uncertain, but outbreaks of toxoplasmosis in dairy goat farms have been recorded. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of T. gondii infection in Norwegian dairy goats by using serology.
Goat serum originally collected as part of two nationwide surveillance and control programmes between 2002 and 2008 were examined for T. gondii antibodies by using direct agglutination test. In total, 55 of 73 herds (75%) had one or more serologically positive animals, while 377 of 2188 (17%) of the individual samples tested positive for T. gondii antibodies.
This is the first prevalence study of T. gondii infection in Norwegian goats. The results show that Norwegian goat herds are commonly exposed to T. gondii. Nevertheless, the majority of goat herds have a low prevalence of antibody positive animals, which make them vulnerable to infections with T. gondii during the gestation period.
PMCID: PMC3538615  PMID: 23259528
Toxoplasma gondii; Goats; Norway; Prevalence; Serology
2.  No indication of Coxiella burnetii infection in Norwegian farmed ruminants 
Infection with Coxiella burnetii, the cause of Q-fever, has never been detected in Norwegian animals. Recognising the increasing prevalence of the infection in neighbouring countries, the aim of the study was to perform a survey of Norwegian farmed ruminants for the prevalence of C. burnetii infection.
Milk and blood samples from more than 3450 Norwegian dairy cattle herds, 55 beef cattle herds, 348 dairy goat herds and 118 sheep flocks were serologically examined for antibodies against C. burnetii. All samples were negative for antibodies against C. burnetii. The estimated prevalences of infected herds were 0 (95% confidence interval: 0% - 0.12%), 0 (0% - 12%), 0 (0% - 1.2%) and 0 (0% - 10%) for dairy cattle herds, beef cattle herds, goat herds and sheep flocks, respectively.
The study indicates that the prevalence of C. burnetii infection in farmed Norwegian ruminants is low, and it cannot be excluded that Norway is free of the infection. It would be beneficial if Norway was able to maintain the current situation. Therefore, preventive measures should be continued.
PMCID: PMC3412698  PMID: 22607497
Coxiella burnetii; ELISA; Freedom from disease; Q-fever; Serology; Ruminants
3.  Combining information from surveys of several species to estimate the probability of freedom from Echinococcus multilocularis in Sweden, Finland and mainland Norway 
The fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis has foxes and other canids as definitive host and rodents as intermediate hosts. However, most mammals can be accidental intermediate hosts and the larval stage may cause serious disease in humans. The parasite has never been detected in Sweden, Finland and mainland Norway. All three countries require currently an anthelminthic treatment for dogs and cats prior to entry in order to prevent introduction of the parasite. Documentation of freedom from E. multilocularis is necessary for justification of the present import requirements.
The probability that Sweden, Finland and mainland Norway were free from E. multilocularis and the sensitivity of the surveillance systems were estimated using scenario trees. Surveillance data from five animal species were included in the study: red fox (Vulpes vulpes), raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), domestic pig, wild boar (Sus scrofa) and voles and lemmings (Arvicolinae).
The cumulative probability of freedom from EM in December 2009 was high in all three countries, 0.98 (95% CI 0.96-0.99) in Finland and 0.99 (0.97-0.995) in Sweden and 0.98 (0.95-0.99) in Norway.
Results from the model confirm that there is a high probability that in 2009 the countries were free from E. multilocularis. The sensitivity analyses showed that the choice of the design prevalences in different infected populations was influential. Therefore more knowledge on expected prevalences for E. multilocularis in infected populations of different species is desirable to reduce residual uncertainty of the results.
PMCID: PMC3049754  PMID: 21314948
4.  The prevalence of atypical scrapie in sheep from positive flocks is not higher than in the general sheep population in 11 European countries 
During the last decade, active surveillance for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in small ruminants has been intensive in Europe. In many countries this has led to the detection of cases of atypical scrapie which, unlike classical scrapie, might not be contagious. EU legislation requires, that following detection of a scrapie case, control measures including further testing take place in affected flocks, including the culling of genotype susceptible to classical scrapie. This might result in the detection of additional cases. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of additional cases in flocks affected by atypical scrapie using surveillance data collected in Europe in order to ascertain whether atypical scrapie, is contagious.
Questionnaires were used to collect, at national level, the results of active surveillance and testing associated with flock outbreaks in 12 European countries. The mean prevalence of atypical scrapie was 5.5 (5.0-6.0) cases per ten thousand in abattoir surveillance and 8.1 (7.3-9.0) cases per ten thousand in fallen stock. By using meta-analysis, on 11 out of the 12 countries, we found that the probability of detecting additional cases of atypical scrapie in positive flocks was similar to the probability observed in animals slaughtered for human consumption (odds ratio, OR = 1.07, CI95%: 0.70-1.63) or among fallen stock (OR = 0.78, CI95%: 0.51-1.2). In contrast, when comparing the two scrapie types, the probability of detecting additional cases in classical scrapie positive flocks was significantly higher than the probability of detecting additional cases in atypical scrapie positive flocks (OR = 32.4, CI95%: 20.7-50.7).
These results suggest that atypical scrapie is not contagious or has a very low transmissibility under natural conditions compared with classical scrapie. Furthermore this study stressed the importance of standardised data collection to make good use of the analyses undertaken by European countries in their efforts to control atypical and classical scrapie.
PMCID: PMC2832631  PMID: 20137097
5.  A descriptive study of the prevalence of atypical and classical scrapie in sheep in 20 European countries 
The development of active surveillance programmes for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies of small ruminants across Europe has led to the recent identification of a previously undetected form of ovine prion disease, 'atypical' scrapie. Knowledge of the epidemiology of this disease is still limited, as is whether it represents a risk for animal and/or public health.
The detection of atypical scrapie has been related to the use of only some of the EU agreed rapid tests. Information about the rapid tests used is not, as yet, available from public reports on the surveillance of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in small ruminants. We collected detailed results of active surveillance from European countries to estimate and to compare the prevalence of atypical scrapie and classical scrapie in sheep for each country stratified by each surveillance stream; healthy slaughtered and found dead adult sheep.
From the 20 participating countries, it appeared that atypical scrapie was detected in Europe wherever the conditions necessary for its diagnosis were present. In most countries, atypical scrapie and classical scrapie occurred at low prevalence level. The classical scrapie prevalence estimates were more variable than those for atypical scrapie, which appeared remarkably homogeneous across countries, surveillance streams and calendar years of surveillance. Differences were observed in the age and genotype of atypical scrapie and classical scrapie cases that are consistent with previous published findings.
This work suggests that atypical scrapie is not rare compared to classical scrapie. The homogeneity of its prevalence, whatever the country, stream of surveillance or year of detection, contrasts with the epidemiological pattern of classical scrapie. This suggests that the aetiology of atypical scrapie differs from that of classical scrapie.
PMCID: PMC2442063  PMID: 18544152
6.  Norwegian farmers' vigilance in reporting sheep showing scrapie-associated signs 
Scrapie is a chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting small ruminants and belongs to the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Scrapie is considered a serious animal disease and it has been notifiable in Norway since 1965. The clinical signs of scrapie might be vague and the farmers, if familiar with the signs of scrapie, are often in the best position for detecting scrapie suspects. In 2002, an anonymous questionnaire survey was conducted in order to assess Norwegian sheep farmers' vigilance of scrapie.
Although the potential detection of a scrapie-positive animal would lead to the destruction of the sheep flock concerned, almost all the farmers (97 %) expressed their willingness to report scrapie suspects. This was most certainly dependent on the Government taking the economic responsibility for the control programme as nearly all the farmers responded that this was an important condition. Listeriosis is relatively common disease in Norwegian sheep and a differential diagnosis for scrapie. In a multinomial logistic regression the reporting behaviour for non-recovering listeriosis cases, used as a measurement of willingness to report scrapie, was examined. The reporting of non-recovering listeriosis cases increased as the knowledge of scrapie-associated signs increased, and the reporting behaviour was dependent on both economic and non-economic values.
The results indicate that in 2002 almost all sheep farmers showed willingness to report any scrapie suspects. Nevertheless there is an underreporting of scrapie suspects and the farmers' awareness and hence their vigilance of scrapie could be improved. Furthermore, the results suggest that to ensure the farmers' compliance to control programmes for serious infectious diseases, the farmers' concerns of non-economic as well as economic values should be considered.
PMCID: PMC2246117  PMID: 18076757
7.  Explaining the heterogeneous scrapie surveillance figures across Europe: a meta-regression approach 
Two annual surveys, the abattoir and the fallen stock, monitor the presence of scrapie across Europe. A simple comparison between the prevalence estimates in different countries reveals that, in 2003, the abattoir survey appears to detect more scrapie in some countries. This is contrary to evidence suggesting the greater ability of the fallen stock survey to detect the disease. We applied meta-analysis techniques to study this apparent heterogeneity in the behaviour of the surveys across Europe. Furthermore, we conducted a meta-regression analysis to assess the effect of country-specific characteristics on the variability. We have chosen the odds ratios between the two surveys to inform the underlying relationship between them and to allow comparisons between the countries under the meta-regression framework. Baseline risks, those of the slaughtered populations across Europe, and country-specific covariates, available from the European Commission Report, were inputted in the model to explain the heterogeneity.
Our results show the presence of significant heterogeneity in the odds ratios between countries and no reduction in the variability after adjustment for the different risks in the baseline populations. Three countries contributed the most to the overall heterogeneity: Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands. The inclusion of country-specific covariates did not, in general, reduce the variability except for one variable: the proportion of the total adult sheep population sampled as fallen stock by each country. A large residual heterogeneity remained in the model indicating the presence of substantial effect variability between countries.
The meta-analysis approach was useful to assess the level of heterogeneity in the implementation of the surveys and to explore the reasons for the variation between countries.
PMCID: PMC1924846  PMID: 17598881

Results 1-7 (7)