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author:("remark, Maria")
1.  Patterns of between-farm contacts via professionals in Sweden 
Infectious diseases of livestock have negative consequences for animal production as well as animal health and welfare and can be transmitted between farms via direct (live animal movements) as well as indirect (via physical vectors such as, people, transport vehicles and fomites) contacts. The objective of the study was to examine the travel patterns of professionals visiting Swedish farms (veterinarians, milk tanker drivers, artificial inseminators, maintenance technicians and livestock hauliers). This was done by obtaining records of the farms visited by a sample of professionals in the above categories in one week in January, one week in April, one week in July and one week in October in the Swedish counties Västerbotten, Södermanland, Västergötland and Skåne.
There were twelve participating organisations, and data was provided for one to three individuals/vehicles/veterinary practices per professional category and per geographic region (except for dairy service technicians and livestock hauliers who did not provide data from all regions). There was a trend towards larger areas covered and smaller number of farms visited per week in the north, but exceptions occurred and there were regional variations. Generally, the greatest areas were travelled by milk tankers and livestock hauliers, and the profession travelling over the smallest areas tended to be the veterinarians. Milk tankers visited most farms per week, one milk tanker could visit between 23 and 90 farms per week and travel over areas between 717 km2 and 23,512 km2 per week.
Valuable insight into the travel patterns of Swedish professionals has emerged although the implications of the study largely concern highly infectious diseases. Movement of live animals pose the greatest risk for the spread of infectious animal diseases; however indirect contacts are important for many diseases. The results of this study indicate that in Sweden a highly contagious disease might spread over a large area in the time span of one incubation period, which ought to be kept in mind in case of an outbreak and in outbreak investigations. The difficulties in contacting some professionals visiting farms could be a problem in an outbreak situation.
PMCID: PMC4222379  PMID: 25366065
Contact data; Contact frequency; Farm visitors; Geographic pattern; Biosecurity
2.  On-farm biosecurity as perceived by professionals visiting Swedish farms 
On-farm biosecurity is an important part of disease prevention and control, this applies to live animal contacts as well as indirect contacts e.g. via professionals visiting farms in their work. The objectives of this study were to investigate how professionals visiting animal farms in Sweden in their daily work perceive the on-farm conditions for biosecurity, the factors that influence their own biosecurity routines and what they describe as obstacles for biosecurity. Suggestions for improvements were also asked for. Questionnaires were distributed to professionals visiting farms in their daily work; veterinarians, livestock hauliers, artificial insemination technicians, animal welfare inspectors and cattle hoof trimmers. The sample was a convenience sample, based on accessibility to registers or collaboration with organisations distributing the questionnaire. Respondents were asked about the availability of certain biosecurity conditions related to farm visits, e.g. if facilities for hand washing were available, how important different factors were for their own routines and, through open ended questions, to describe obstacles and suggestions for improvement.
After data cleaning, there were responses from 368 persons. There was a difference in the proportion of visited farms reported to have certain biosecurity measures in place related to animal species present on the farm. In general, visited pig farms had a higher proportion of biosecurity measures in place, whereas the conditions were poorer on sheep and goat farms and horse farms. There were also differences between the visitor categories; the perceived conditions for biosecurity varied between the groups, e.g. livestock hauliers did not have access to hand washing facilities as often as veterinarians did. In all groups, a majority of the respondents perceived obstacles for on-farm biosecurity, among veterinarians 66% perceived that there were obstacles. Many of the reported obstacles related to the very basics of biosecurity, such as access to soap and water. Responsibility was identified to be a key issue; while some farmers expect visitors to take responsibility for keeping up biosecurity they do not provide the adequate on-farm conditions.
Many of the respondents reported obstacles for keeping good biosecurity related to on-farm conditions. There was a gap when it came to responsibility which needs to be clarified. Visitors need to take responsibility for avoiding spread of disease, while farmers need to assume responsibility for providing adequate conditions for on-farm biosecurity.
PMCID: PMC4036743  PMID: 24886408
3.  EpiContactTrace: an R-package for contact tracing during livestock disease outbreaks and for risk-based surveillance 
During outbreak of livestock diseases, contact tracing can be an important part of disease control. Animal movements can also be of relevance for risk-based surveillance and sampling, i.e. both when assessing consequences of introduction or likelihood of introduction. In many countries, animal movement data are collected with one of the major objectives to enable contact tracing. However, often an analytical step is needed to retrieve appropriate information for contact tracing or surveillance.
In this study, an open source tool was developed to structure livestock movement data to facilitate contact-tracing in real time during disease outbreaks and for input in risk-based surveillance and sampling. The tool, EpiContactTrace, was written in the R-language and uses the network parameters in-degree, out-degree, ingoing contact chain and outgoing contact chain (also called infection chain), which are relevant for forward and backward tracing respectively. The time-frames for backward and forward tracing can be specified independently and search can be done on one farm at a time or for all farms within the dataset. Different outputs are available; datasets with network measures, contacts visualised in a map and automatically generated reports for each farm either in HTML or PDF-format intended for the end-users, i.e. the veterinary authorities, regional disease control officers and field-veterinarians. EpiContactTrace is available as an R-package at the R-project website (
We believe this tool can help in disease control since it rapidly can structure essential contact information from large datasets. The reproducible reports make this tool robust and independent of manual compilation of data. The open source makes it accessible and easily adaptable for different needs.
PMCID: PMC3974595  PMID: 24636731
Cattle-transport; Control strategies; Decision support systems; Epidemics; Eradication programs; Network analysis; GIS
4.  A survey of visitors on Swedish livestock farms with reference to the spread of animal diseases 
In addition to livestock movements, other between-farm contacts such as visitors may contribute to the spread of contagious animal diseases. Knowledge about such contacts is essential for contingency planning. Preventive measures, risk-based surveillance and contact tracing may be facilitated if the frequency and type of between-farm contacts can be assessed for different types of farms. The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency and types of visitors on farms with cloven-hoofed animals in Sweden and to analyse whether there were differences in the number of visitors attributable to region, season, and type of herd. Data were collected from Swedish farmers through contact-logs covering two-week periods during four different seasons.
In total, 482 (32%) farmers filled in the contact log for at least one period and the data represent 18,416 days. The average number of professional and non-professional visitors per day was 0.3 and 0.8, respectively. Whereas the number of professional visitors seemed to increase with increasing herd size, this relation was not seen for non-professional visits. The mean numbers of visitors per day were highest in the summer and in the farm category ‘small mixed farm’. Reports of the visitors’ degree of contact with the animals showed that veterinarians, AI-technicians, animal transporters and neighbours were often in direct contact with the animals or entered the stables and 8.8% of the repairmen were also in direct contact with animals, which was unexpected. In a multivariable analysis, species, herd size and season were significantly associated with the number of professional visitors as well as the number of visitors in direct contact with the animals.
In conclusion there was a large variation between farms in the number and type of contacts. The number of visitors that may be more likely to spread diseases between farms was associated with animal species and herd size.
PMCID: PMC3848732  PMID: 24040830
5.  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
6.  Spatial and temporal investigations of reported movements, births and deaths of cattle and pigs in Sweden 
Livestock movements can affect the spread and control of contagious diseases and new data recording systems enable analysis of these movements. The results can be used for contingency planning, modelling of disease spread and design of disease control programs.
Data on the Swedish cattle and pig populations during the period July 2005 until June 2006 were obtained from databases held by the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Movements of cattle and pigs were investigated from geographical and temporal perspectives, births and deaths of cattle were investigated from a temporal perspective and the geographical distribution of holdings was also investigated.
Most movements of cattle and pigs were to holdings within 100 km, but movements up to 1200 km occurred. Consequently, the majority of movements occurred within the same county or to adjacent counties. Approximately 54% of the cattle holdings and 45% of the pig holdings did not purchase any live animals. Seasonal variations in births and deaths of cattle were identified, with peaks in spring. Cattle movements peaked in spring and autumn. The maximum number of holdings within a 3 km radius of one holding was 45 for cattle and 23 for pigs, with large variations among counties. Missing data and reporting bias (digit preference) were detected in the data.
The databases are valuable tools in contact tracing. However since movements can be reported up to a week after the event and some data are missing they cannot replace other methods in the acute phase of an outbreak. We identified long distance transports of cattle and pigs, and these findings support an implementation of a total standstill in the country in the case of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The databases contain valuable information and improvements in data quality would make them even more useful.
PMCID: PMC2764703  PMID: 19811628
7.  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

Results 1-7 (7)