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1.  Interaction effects between sender and receiver processes in indirect transmission of Campylobacter jejuni between broilers 
Background
Infectious diseases in plants, animals and humans are often transmitted indirectly between hosts (or between groups of hosts), i.e. via some route through the environment instead of via direct contacts between these hosts. Here we study indirect transmission experimentally, using transmission of Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) between spatially separated broilers as a model system. We distinguish three stages in the process of indirect transmission; (1) an infectious “sender” excretes the agent, after which (2) the agent is transported via some route to a susceptible “receiver”, and subsequently (3) the receiver becomes colonised by the agent. The role of the sender and receiver side (stage 1 and stage 3) was studied here by using acidification of the drinking water as a modulation mechanism.
Results
In the experiment one control group and three treatment groups were monitored for the presence of C. jejuni by taking daily cloacal swabs. The three treatments consisted of acidification of the drinking water of the inoculated animals (the senders), acidification of the drinking water of the susceptible animals (the receivers) or acidification of the drinking water of both inoculated and susceptible animals. In the control group 12 animals got colonised out of a possible 40, in each treatment groups 3 animals out of a possible 40 were found colonised with C. jejuni.
Conclusions
The results of the experiments show a significant decrease in transmission rate (β) between the control groups and treatment groups (p < 0.01 for all groups) but not between different treatments; there is a significant negative interaction effect when both the sender and the receiver group receive acidified drinking water (p = 0.01). This negative interaction effect could be due to selection of bacteria already at the sender side thereby diminishing the effect of acidification at the receiver side.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-123
PMCID: PMC3514386  PMID: 22831274
2.  Scrapie prevalence in sheep of susceptible genotype is declining in a population subject to breeding for resistance 
Background
Susceptibility of sheep to scrapie infection is known to be modulated by the PrP genotype of the animal. In the Netherlands an ambitious scrapie control programme was started in 1998, based on genetic selection of animals for breeding. From 2002 onwards EU regulations required intensive active scrapie surveillance as well as certain control measures in affected flocks.
Here we analyze the data on genotype frequencies and scrapie prevalence in the Dutch sheep population obtained from both surveillance and affected flocks, to identify temporal trends. We also estimate the genotype-specific relative risks to become a detected scrapie case.
Results
We find that the breeding programme has produced a steady increase in the level of genetic scrapie resistance in the Dutch sheep population. We also find that a significant decline in the prevalence of scrapie in tested animals has occurred a number of years after the start of the breeding programme. Most importantly, the estimated scrapie prevalence level per head of susceptible genotype is also declining significantly, indicating that selective breeding causes a population effect.
Conclusions
The Dutch scrapie control programme has produced a steady rise in genetic resistance levels in recent years. A recent decline in the scrapie prevalence per tested sheep of susceptible prion protein genotype indicates that selective breeding causes the desired population effect.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-25
PMCID: PMC2883980  PMID: 20470415
3.  Eradication of scrapie with selective breeding: are we nearly there? 
Background
Following EU decision 2003/100/EC Member States have recently implemented sheep breeding programmes to reduce the prevalence of sheep with TSE susceptible prion genotypes. The present paper investigates the progress of the breeding programme in the Netherlands. The PrP genotype frequencies were monitored through time using two sets of random samples: one set covers the years 2005 to 2008 and is taken from national surveillance programme; the other is taken from 168 random sheep farms in 2007. The data reveal that although the level of compliance to the breeding programme has been high, the frequency of susceptible genotypes varies substantially between farms. The 168 sheep farms are a subset of 689 farms participating in a postal survey inquiring about management and breeding strategies. This survey aimed to identify how much these strategies varied between farms, in order to inform assessment of the expected future progress towards eradication of classical scrapie.
Results
On the one hand, we found that compliance to the national breeding program has been high, and the frequency of resistant genotypes is expected to increase further in the next few years. On the other hand, we observed a large variation in prevalence of the scrapie resistant PrP genotype ARR between farms, implicating a large variation of genetic resistance between farms. Substantial between-flock differences in management and breeding strategies were found in the postal survey, suggesting considerable variation in risk of scrapie transmission between farms.
Conclusions
Our results show that although there has been a good progress in the breeding for scrapie resistance and the average farm-level scrapie susceptibility in the Netherlands has been significantly reduced, still a considerable proportion of farms contain high frequencies of susceptible genotypes in their sheep population. Since 2007 the breeding for genetic resistance is voluntarily again, and participation to selective breeding can decrease as a result of this. This, together with the patterns of direct and indirect contact between sheep farms, might present a challenge of the aim of scrapie eradication. Communication to sheep owners of the effect of the breeding programme thus far, and of the prospects for classical scrapie eradication in The Netherlands might be essential for obtaining useful levels of participation to the voluntary continuation of the breeding programme.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-24
PMCID: PMC2873516  PMID: 20441587
4.  Spatial analysis of BSE cases in the Netherlands 
Background
In many of the European countries affected by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), case clustering patterns have been observed. Most of these patterns have been interpreted in terms of heterogeneities in exposure of cattle to the BSE agent. Here we investigate whether spatial clustering is present in the Dutch BSE case data.
Results
We have found three spatial case clusters in the Dutch BSE epidemic. The clusters are geographically distinct and each cluster appears in a different birth cohort. When testing all birth cohorts together, only one significant cluster was detected. The fact that we found stronger spatial clustering when using a cohort-based analysis, is consistent with the evidence that most BSE infections occur in animals less than 12 or 18 months old.
Conclusion
Significant spatial case clustering is present in the Dutch BSE epidemic. The spatial clusters of BSE cases are most likely due to time-dependent heterogeneities in exposure related to feed production.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-4-21
PMCID: PMC2441619  PMID: 18559085
5.  Local spread of classical swine fever upon virus introduction into The Netherlands: Mapping of areas at high risk 
Background
In the recent past, the introduction of Classical Swine Fever Virus (CSFV) followed by between-herd spread has given rise to a number of large epidemics in The Netherlands and Belgium. Both these countries are pork-exporting countries. Particularly important in these epidemics has been the occurrence of substantial "neighborhood transmission" from herd to herd in the presence of base-line control measures prescribed by EU legislation. Here we propose a calculation procedure to map out "high-risk areas" for local between-herd spread of CSFV as a tool to support decision making on prevention and control of CSFV outbreaks. In this procedure the identification of such areas is based on an estimated inter-herd distance dependent probability of neighborhood transmission or "local transmission". Using this distance-dependent probability, we derive a threshold value for the local density of herds. In areas with local herd density above threshold, local transmission alone can already lead to epidemic spread, whereas in below-threshold areas this is not the case. The first type of area is termed 'high-risk' for spread of CSFV, while the latter type is termed 'low-risk'.
Results
As we show for the case of The Netherlands, once the distance-dependent probability of local transmission has been estimated from CSFV outbreak data, it is possible to produce a map of the country in which areas of high-risk herds and of low-risk herds are identified. We made these maps even more informative by estimating border zones between the two types of areas. In these border zones the risk of local transmission of infection to a nearby high-risk area exceeds a certain level.
Conclusion
The risk maps provide an easily understandable visualization of the spatial heterogeneities in transmission risk. They serve as a tool for area-specific designs of control strategies, and possibly also for spatial planning of areas where livestock farming is allowed. Similar risk maps can in principle be constructed for other highly-transmissible livestock infections that spread via neighborhood transmission.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-4-9
PMCID: PMC2311289  PMID: 18298803

Results 1-5 (5)