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1.  Risk mapping of Rinderpest sero-prevalence in Central and Southern Somalia based on spatial and network risk factors 
In contrast to most pastoral systems, the Somali livestock production system is oriented towards domestic trade and export with seasonal movement patterns of herds/flocks in search of water and pasture and towards export points. Data from a rinderpest survey and other data sources have been integrated to explore the topology of a contact network of cattle herds based on a spatial proximity criterion and other attributes related to cattle herd dynamics. The objective of the study is to integrate spatial mobility and other attributes with GIS and network approaches in order to develop a predictive spatial model of presence of rinderpest.
A spatial logistic regression model was fitted using data for 562 point locations. It includes three statistically significant continuous-scale variables that increase the risk of rinderpest: home range radius, herd density and clustering coefficient of the node of the network whose link was established if the sum of the home ranges of every pair of nodes was equal or greater than the shortest distance between the points. The sensitivity of the model is 85.1% and the specificity 84.6%, correctly classifying 84.7% of the observations. The spatial autocorrelation not accounted for by the model is negligible and visual assessment of a semivariogram of the residuals indicated that there was no undue amount of spatial autocorrelation. The predictive model was applied to a set of 6176 point locations covering the study area. Areas at high risk of having serological evidence of rinderpest are located mainly in the coastal districts of Lower and Middle Juba, the coastal area of Lower Shabele and in the regions of Middle Shabele and Bay. There are also isolated spots of high risk along the border with Kenya and the southern area of the border with Ethiopia.
The identification of point locations and areas with high risk of presence of rinderpest and their spatial visualization as a risk map will be useful for informing the prioritization of disease surveillance and control activities for rinderpest in Somalia. The methodology applied here, involving spatial and network parameters, could also be applied to other diseases and/or species as part of a standardized approach for the design of risk-based surveillance activities in nomadic pastoral settings.
PMCID: PMC2873515  PMID: 20426843
2.  Associations between attributes of live poultry trade and HPAI H5N1 outbreaks: a descriptive and network analysis study in northern Vietnam 
The structure of contact between individuals plays an important role in the incursion and spread of contagious diseases in both human and animal populations. In the case of avian influenza, the movement of live birds is a well known risk factor for the geographic dissemination of the virus among poultry flocks. Live bird markets (LBM's) contribute to the epidemiology of avian influenza due to their demographic characteristics and the presence of HPAI H5N1 virus lineages. The relationship between poultry producers and live poultry traders (LPT's) that operate in LBM's has not been adequately documented in HPAI H5N1-affected SE Asian countries. The aims of this study were to document and study the flow of live poultry in a poultry trade network in northern Vietnam, and explore its potential role in the risk for HPAI H5N1 during 2003 to 2006.
Our results indicate that LPT's trading for less than a year and operating at retail markets are more likely to source poultry from flocks located in communes with a past history of HPAI H5N1 outbreaks during 2003 to 2006 than LPT's trading longer than a year and operating at wholesale markets. The results of the network analysis indicate that LPT's tend to link communes of similar infection status.
Our study provides evidence which can be used for informing policies aimed at encouraging more biosecure practices of LPT's operating at authorised LBM's. The results suggest that LPT's play a role in HPAI H5N1 transmission and may contribute to perpetuating HPAI H5N1 virus circulation amongst certain groups of communes. The impact of current disease prevention and control interventions could be enhanced by disseminating information about outbreak risk and the implementation of a formal data recording scheme at LBM's for all incoming and outgoing LPT's.
PMCID: PMC2837645  PMID: 20175881
3.  Atypical scrapie in sheep from a UK research flock which is free from classical scrapie 
In the wake of the epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy the British government established a flock of sheep from which scrapie-free animals are supplied to laboratories for research. Three breeds of sheep carrying a variety of different genotypes associated with scrapie susceptibility/resistance were imported in 1998 and 2001 from New Zealand, a country regarded as free from scrapie. They are kept in a purpose-built Sheep Unit under strict disease security and are monitored clinically and post mortem for evidence of scrapie. It is emphasised that atypical scrapie, as distinct from classical scrapie, has been recognised only relatively recently and differs from classical scrapie in its clinical, neuropathological and biochemical features. Most cases are detected in apparently healthy sheep by post mortem examination.
The occurrence of atypical scrapie in three sheep in (or derived from) the Sheep Unit is reported. Significant features of the affected sheep included their relatively high ages (6 y 1 mo, 7 y 9 mo, 9 y 7 mo respectively), their breed (all Cheviots) and their similar PRNP genotypes (AFRQ/AFRQ, AFRQ/ALRQ, and AFRQ/AFRQ, respectively). Two of the three sheep showed no clinical signs prior to death but all were confirmed as having atypical scrapie by immunohistochemistry and Western immunoblotting. Results of epidemiological investigations are presented and possible aetiologies of the cases are discussed.
By process of exclusion, a likely explanation for the three cases of atypical scrapie is that they arose spontaneously and were not infected from an exterior source. If correct, this raises challenging issues for countries which are currently regarded as free from scrapie. It would mean that atypical scrapie is liable to occur in flocks worldwide, especially in older sheep of susceptible genotypes. To state confidently that both the classical and atypical forms of scrapie are absent from a population it is necessary for active surveillance to have taken place.
PMCID: PMC2649067  PMID: 19208228
4.  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 1-4 (4)