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1.  Experience with the delegation of anaesthesia for disbudding and castration to trained and certified livestock owners 
Anaesthesia is mandatory for disbudding and castrating calves and lambs of any age, in Switzerland. According to the “anaesthesia delegation model” (ADM), anaesthesia for disbudding calves <3 weeks of age and castrating calves and lambs <2 weeks of age may be administered by certified farmers. Experience with this unique model is not available. The aim was to evaluate the experience of the veterinary practitioners with the ADM. The response rate was 42%. The survey consisted of one questionnaire for each procedure. Procedure I was the delegation of anaesthesia for disbudding calves and procedures II and III were anaesthesia for castrating calves and lambs.
Procedure I was performed with local anaesthesia in all farms of 51.8% of the veterinary practices, while this was only 39.3% and 7.6% for procedures II and III (p < 0.001). Anaesthesia for procedure I was administered technically correctly by farmers in at least 66% of the farms of 58.3% of the practitioners, while this was 45.4% and only 23.6% for procedures II and III (p < 0.001). The ADM was assessed as a moderate to very good model to reinforce the legal obligations for procedures I, II, or III by 74.8%, 76.5% and 62.0% of the veterinary practitioners (p < 0.005).
The delegation of anaesthesia to certified farmers may be a promising model to reinforce the obligation to provide local anaesthesia for disbudding and castrating calves, but to a lesser extent for castrating lambs.
PMCID: PMC3922627  PMID: 24495664
2.  Questionnaire-based study to assess the association between management practices and mastitis within tie-stall and free-stall dairy housing systems in Switzerland 
Prophylactic measures are key components of dairy herd mastitis control programs, but some are only relevant in specific housing systems. To assess the association between management practices and mastitis incidence, data collected in 2011 by a survey among 979 randomly selected Swiss dairy farms, and information from the regular test day recordings from 680 of these farms was analyzed.
The median incidence of farmer-reported clinical mastitis (ICM) was 11.6 (mean 14.7) cases per 100 cows per year. The median annual proportion of milk samples with a composite somatic cell count (PSCC) above 200,000 cells/ml was 16.1 (mean 17.3) %. A multivariable negative binomial regression model was fitted for each of the mastitis indicators for farms with tie-stall and free-stall housing systems separately to study the effect of other (than housing system) management practices on the ICM and PSCC events (above 200,000 cells/ml). The results differed substantially by housing system and outcome. In tie-stall systems, clinical mastitis incidence was mainly affected by region (mountainous production zone; incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.73), the dairy herd replacement system (1.27) and farmers age (0.81). The proportion of high SCC was mainly associated with dry cow udder controls (IRR = 0.67), clean bedding material at calving (IRR = 1.72), using total merit values to select bulls (IRR = 1.57) and body condition scoring (IRR = 0.74). In free-stall systems, the IRR for clinical mastitis was mainly associated with stall climate/temperature (IRR = 1.65), comfort mats as resting surface (IRR = 0.75) and when no feed analysis was carried out (IRR = 1.18). The proportion of high SSC was only associated with hand and arm cleaning after calving (IRR = 0.81) and beef producing value to select bulls (IRR = 0.66).
There were substantial differences in identified risk factors in the four models. Some of the factors were in agreement with the reported literature while others were not. This highlights the multifactorial nature of the disease and the differences in the risks for both mastitis manifestations. Attempting to understand these multifactorial associations for mastitis within larger management groups continues to play an important role in mastitis control programs.
PMCID: PMC3852534  PMID: 24107254
Cumulative incidence; Prevalence; Swiss dairy farms; Clinical mastitis; Subclinical mastitis; Prophylaxis; Management; Negative binomial regression; Somatic cell count
3.  Risk factors for contacts between wild boar and outdoor pigs in Switzerland and investigations on potential Brucella suis spill-over 
Due to the parallel increase of the number of free-ranging wild boar and domestic pigs reared outdoor, the risk that they interact has become higher. Contacts with wild boar can be the origin of disease outbreaks in pigs, as it has been documented for brucellosis in some European countries. This study aimed at quantifying the occurrence of contacts between wild boar and outdoor domestic pigs in Switzerland, and identifying risk factors for these contacts. Furthermore, exposed pigs were tested for pathogen spill-over, taking Brucella suis as an example because B. suis is widespread in Swiss wild boar while domestic pigs are officially free of brucellosis.
Thirty-one percent of the game-wardens and 25% of the pig owners participating to a country-wide questionnaire survey reported contacts, including approaches of wild boar outside the fence, intrusions, and mating. Seventeen piggeries (5%) reported the birth of cross-bred animals. Risk factors for contacts identified by a uni- and multivariable logistic regression approach were: distance between pigs enclosure and houses, proximity of a forest, electric fences, and fences ≤ 60 cm. Pigs of the Mangalitza breed were most at risk for mating with wild boar (births of cross-bred animals). Blood and tissues of 218 outdoor pigs from 13 piggeries were tested for an infection with Brucella suis, using rose bengal test, complement fixation test, and an IS711-based real-time PCR. One piggery with previous wild boar contacts was found infected with B. suis, however, epidemiological investigations failed to identify the direct source of infection.
Results show that interactions between wild boar and outdoor pigs are not uncommon, pointing at the existing risk of pathogen spill-over. Provided data on risk factors for these interactions could help the risk-based implementation of protection measures for piggeries. The documentation of a brucellosis outbreak in pigs despite the freedom-of-disease status underlines the importance of improving pathogen surveillance strategies and increasing disease awareness of farmers and veterinary practitioners.
PMCID: PMC3464720  PMID: 22817843
Brucella suis; Brucellosis; Interactions; Outdoor pigs; Risk factors; Spill-over; Wild boar
4.  Using scenario tree modelling for targeted herd sampling to substantiate freedom from disease 
In order to optimise the cost-effectiveness of active surveillance to substantiate freedom from disease, a new approach using targeted sampling of farms was developed and applied on the example of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and enzootic bovine leucosis (EBL) in Switzerland. Relevant risk factors (RF) for the introduction of IBR and EBL into Swiss cattle farms were identified and their relative risks defined based on literature review and expert opinions. A quantitative model based on the scenario tree method was subsequently used to calculate the required sample size of a targeted sampling approach (TS) for a given sensitivity. We compared the sample size with that of a stratified random sample (sRS) with regard to efficiency.
The required sample sizes to substantiate disease freedom were 1,241 farms for IBR and 1,750 farms for EBL to detect 0.2% herd prevalence with 99% sensitivity. Using conventional sRS, the required sample sizes were 2,259 farms for IBR and 2,243 for EBL. Considering the additional administrative expenses required for the planning of TS, the risk-based approach was still more cost-effective than a sRS (40% reduction on the full survey costs for IBR and 8% for EBL) due to the considerable reduction in sample size.
As the model depends on RF selected through literature review and was parameterised with values estimated by experts, it is subject to some degree of uncertainty. Nevertheless, this approach provides the veterinary authorities with a promising tool for future cost-effective sampling designs.
PMCID: PMC3170209  PMID: 21843367
5.  Ovine Enzootic Abortion (OEA): a comparison of antibody responses in vaccinated and naturally-infected swiss sheep over a two year period 
Prevention and control of ovine enzootic abortion (OEA) can be achieved by application of a live vaccine. In this study, five sheep flocks with different vaccination and infection status were serologically tested using a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) specific for Chlamydophila (Cp.) abortus over a two-year time period.
Sheep in Flock A with recent OEA history had high antibody values after vaccination similar to Flock C with natural Cp. abortus infections. In contrast, OEA serology negative sheep (Flock E) showed individual animal-specific immunoreactions after vaccination. Antibody levels of vaccinated ewes in Flock B ranged from negative to positive two and three years after vaccination, respectively. Positive antibody values in the negative control Flock D (without OEA or vaccination) are probably due to asymptomatic intestinal infections with Cp. abortus. Excretion of the attenuated strain of Cp. abortus used in the live vaccine through the eye was not observed in vaccinated animals of Flock E.
The findings of our study indicate that, using serology, no distinction can be made between vaccinated and naturally infected sheep. As a result, confirmation of a negative OEA status in vaccinated animals by serology cannot be determined.
PMCID: PMC2042495  PMID: 17903243

Results 1-5 (5)