Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus, GBS) is a causative agent of mastitis in dairy cattle, mainly causing a subclinical disease associated with a high somatic cell count (SCC), and a consequent decrease in production yield and quality of milk. GBS has been almost eradicated in many Northern European countries, but there are warnings of its re-emergence as a zoonotic threat. In Italy, only two regions carry out a GBS control program: Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. In Emilia-Romagna, the program has been in place since 2019 and provides for the bacteriological culture of bulk-tank milk (BTM) of all dairy farms every 6 months and the voluntary application of herd eradication programs in the case of positive results. To assess the progress of the program in Emilia Romagna, in terms of herd-level prevalence and GBS transmission between herds, we analyzed the results of 17,056 BTM cultures from 2,831 dairy herds, sampled biannually in the period 2019-2021 (six rounds total). The impact of GBS infection on SCC and milk production was also evaluated. The results show a decreasing trend in both the incidence rate (from 3.0 to 1.5%) and apparent prevalence (from 8.9 to 5.2%) of GBS over the study period. By using a susceptible-infected-susceptible (SIS) model for the estimation of the transmission parameters, a basic reproductive number R 0 of 1.4 was calculated, indicating an active spread of GBS in the dairy cattle population of the Emilia-Romagna region. GBS infected farms have a consistently higher BTM SCC than negative ones (+77,000 cells/ml), corresponding to a 0.4 kg/cow/day milk loss. Moreover, GBS infected herds resulted in almost three times more likelihood of having non-marketable milk by exceeding the legal SCC limit. This study demonstrates the need to maintain the current control program against GBS to lower its occurrence and prevent significant market losses to farmers.
STOC free poster wins price at SVEPM conference During the annual conference of the Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (SVEPM) in Tallinn, Estonia (21-23 March 2018) two posters were presented on the STOC free project: a poster presented by Inge Santman about the general outline of the project and a poster presented by Mathilde Mercat describing the conceptual model of BVDV. Both posters were received very well by the conference participants and the SVEPM scientific committee. The poster with the general outline of the STOC free project was awarded the AVIA-GIS prize for the best poster with a topic that bridges the gap between research and decision making.
The existence, stage of eradication and design of control programmes (CPs) for diseases that are not regulated by the EU differ between Member States. When freedom from infection is reached (or being pursued), safe trade is essential to protect (or reach) that status. The aim of STOC free, a collaborative project between six countries, is to develop and validate a framework that enables a transparent and standardized comparison of confidence of freedom for CPs across herds, regions or countries. The framework consists of a model combined with a tool to facilitate the collection of the necessary parameters. All relevant actions taken in a CP are included in a Bayesian network model, which allows prior distributions for most parameters. In addition, frequency of occurrence and risk estimates for factors that influence either the probability of introduction or temporary misclassification leading to delayed detection of the infection are included in the model. Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) is used as an example disease. Many countries have CPs in place for BVDV and although elements of the CPs are similar, biosecurity measures and testing protocols, including types of tests and testing frequency, as well as target groups, differ widely. Although the initially developed framework is based on BVDV, the aim is to make it sufficiently generic to be adaptable to CPs for other diseases and possibly other species. Thus, STOC free will result in a single general framework, adaptable to multiple disease CPs, which aims to enhance the safety of trade. © 2019 Van Roon, Van Schaik, Santman-Berends, More, Mercat, Madouasse, Graham, Nielen, Fourichon, Gethmann, Frössling, Lindberg, Correia-Gomes, Gunn, Sauter-Louis, Henry and van Duijn.
Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is endemic in many parts of the world, and multiple countries have implemented surveillance activities for disease control or eradication. In such control programs, the disease-free status can be compromised by factors that pose risks for introduction or persistence of the virus. The aim of the present study was to gain a comprehensive overview of possible risk factors for BVDV infection in cattle herds in Europe and to assess their importance. Papers that considered risk factors for BVDV infection in cattle were identified through a systematic search. Further selection of papers eligible for quantitative analysis was performed using a predefined checklist, including (1) appropriate region (i.e., studies performed in Europe), (2) representativeness of the study population, (3) quality of statistical analysis, and (4) availability of sufficient quantitative data. In total, 18 observational studies were selected. Data were analyzed by a random-effects meta-analysis to obtain pooled estimates of the odds of BVDV infection. Meta-analyses were performed on 6 risk factors: herd type, herd size, participation in shows or markets, introduction of cattle, grazing, and contact with other cattle herds on pasture. Significant higher odds were found for dairy herds (odds ratio, OR = 1.63, 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.06–2.50) compared with beef herds, for larger herds (OR = 1.04 for every 10 extra animals in the herd, 95% CI: 1.02–1.06), for herds that participate in shows or markets (OR = 1.45, 95% CI: 1.10–1.91), for herds that introduced cattle into the herd (OR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.18–1.69), and for herds that share pasture or have direct contact with cattle of other herds at pasture (OR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.07–1.63). These pooled values must be interpreted with care, as there was a high level of heterogeneity between studies. However, they do give an indication of the importance of the most frequently studied risk factors and can therefore assist in the development, evaluation, and optimization of BVDV control programs.
Agriculture is an important production sector in Albania that makes a significant contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. The livestock sector contributes more than half of the agricultural GDP. The Albanian cattle population represents 50% of the total livestock units and accounts for 85% of the national milk production, the rest being supplied by small ruminants. Cattle productivity, health and welfare are hindered by infectious diseases, some of which are also transmissible to humans (zoonosis). The aim of this manuscript is to provide an overview of the control of selected regulated and non-EU regulated cattle diseases in Albania and to highlight specific challenges for the Albanian cattle industry. The most important infectious cattle diseases in Albania for which national control and eradication strategies are in place are bovine brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, and anthrax, which are all zoonotic. Additionally, lumpy skin disease recently emerged in the Balkan region and is currently subject to controls. Most of the available funds and European Union support are allocated to the control of EU regulated zoonotic diseases. For control of non-EU regulated cattle diseases, no funds are available resulting in the lack of national control programmes (CPs). Based on research, clinical investigations and laboratory results, several non-EU regulated cattle infectious diseases appear endemic in Albanian dairy farms. While no national CPs exist for any of them, regional initiatives are available on a voluntary basis to control infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and bovine viral diarrhea. In the voluntary CPs, there is no monitored requirement to prove disease freedom of purchased animals and to re-evaluate the herd's free status after the introduction of animals into a herd. Data on animal movements that are routinely collected could potentially be used to control the risk of purchase, but quality needs to be further improved to increase its usefulness in disease CPs. This overview aims to collate existing information on the CPs implemented in Albania and to evaluate these to highlight gaps and threats in disease control, as well as opportunities and strengths through a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, with the goal of providing a framework for the future implementation of animal disease control measures in Albania.
Disease control, SOUND control, Endemic diseases, Control programs, Monitoring, Surveillance, Non-EU Regulated Cattle Diseases in the Netherlands
The COST action “Standardising output-based surveillance to control non-regulated diseases of cattle in the European Union (SOUND control),” aims to harmonise the results of surveillance and control programmes (CPs) for non-EU regulated cattle diseases to facilitate safe trade and improve overall control of cattle infectious diseases. In this paper we aimed to provide an overview on the diversity of control for these diseases in Europe. A non-EU regulated cattle disease was defined as an infectious disease of cattle with no or limited control at EU level, which is not included in the European Union Animal health law Categories A or B under Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2002. A CP was defined as surveillance and/or intervention strategies designed to lower the incidence, prevalence, mortality or prove freedom from a specific disease in a region or country. Passive surveillance, and active surveillance of breeding bulls under Council Directive 88/407/EEC were not considered as CPs. A questionnaire was designed to obtain country-specific information about CPs for each disease. Animal health experts from 33 European countries completed the questionnaire. Overall, there are 23 diseases for which a CP exists in one or more of the countries studied. The diseases for which CPs exist in the highest number of countries are enzootic bovine leukosis, bluetongue, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine viral diarrhoea and anthrax (CPs reported by between 16 and 31 countries). Every participating country has on average, 6 CPs (min–max: 1–13) in place. Most programmes are implemented at a national level (86%) and are applied to both dairy and non-dairy cattle (75%). Approximately one-third of the CPs are voluntary, and the funding structure is divided between government and private resources. Countries that have eradicated diseases like enzootic bovine leukosis, bluetongue, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and bovine viral diarrhoea have implemented CPs for other diseases to further improve the health status of cattle in their country. The control of non-EU regulated cattle diseases is very heterogenous in Europe. Therefore, the standardising of the outputs of these programmes to enable comparison represents a challenge.
Some European countries have successfully implemented country-specific control programs (CPs) for infectious cattle diseases that are not regulated or are regulated only to a limited extent at the European Union (EU) level. Examples of such diseases include bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), and Johne's disease (JD). The CPs vary between countries in the design and quality of collected data as well as methods used to detect infection and estimate prevalence or probability Rapaliute et al. Quality of Control Program Data of freedom from infection. Differences in disease status between countries and non-standardized approaches to assess freedom from infection pose a risk for countries with CPs for non-regulated diseases as infected animals may influence the progress of the disease control or eradication program. The implementation of output-based standards allows estimation and comparison of the probability of freedom for non-regulated cattle diseases in European countries. The aim of the current study was to assess the existence and quality of data that could be used for estimating freedom from infection in European countries. The online data collection tool was sent to 32 countries participating in the SOUND control COST Action and was completed by 24 countries. Data on cattle demographics and data from CPs of IBR and BVD exist in more than 50% of the response countries. However, data describing risk factors and CP of JD was reported as existing in <25% of the countries. The overall quality of data in the sections on demographics and CPs of IBR and BVD were evaluated as "good", but risk factors and JD data were mostly evaluated as "fair." Data quality was considered less good mainly due to two quality criteria: accessibility and accuracy. The results of this study show that the quantity and quality of data about cattle populations and CPs are relatively similar in many surveyed countries. The outcome of this work provides an overview of the current situation in the European countries regarding data on EU non-regulated cattle diseases and will further assist in the development and implementation of output-based standards.
Paratuberculosis is a chronic enteric disease affecting virtually all ruminants, but only anecdotal information is currently available about the occurrence of this disease in water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis). We carried out a survey study aimed at determining the prevalence of paratuberculosis in 2 provinces in the region of Campania, Italy, where about half of all Italian buffaloes are reared. From May 2017 to December 2018, we collected 201,175 individual serum samples from 995 buffalo herds. The sera were collected from animals over 24 mo old and were tested using a commercial ELISA test. The herd-level apparent prevalence result was 54.7%, and the animal-level apparent prevalence was 1.8%. The herd-level true prevalence was estimated using a Bayesian approach, demonstrating a high herd-level prevalence of paratuberculosis in water buffaloes from the Campania area. These findings suggest that the urgent adoption of paratuberculosis herd-control programs for water buffaloes in this area would be beneficial.
The cattle industry is a major driving force for the Italian agricultural sector totalling about 5. 6 million heads for dairy and meat production together. It is particularly developed in the northern part of the country, where 70% of the whole Italian cattle population is reared. The cattle industry development in the rest of the country is hampered by the hard orography of the territories and a variety of socioeconomic features leading to the persistence of the traditional rural farming systems. The differences in the farming systems (industrial vs. traditional) also affect the health status of the farms. Whereas, Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (EBL) is almost eradicated across the whole country, in Southern Italy where Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis are still present and Bluetongue is endemic due to the presence of the competent vector (Culicoides imicola), less investments are aimed at controlling diseases with economic impact or at improving farm biosecurity. On the other hand, with the eradication of these diseases in most part of the country, the need has emerged for reducing the economic burden of non-regulated endemic disease and control programs (CPs) for specific diseases have been implemented at regional level, based on the needs of each territory (for instance common grazing or trading with neighboring countries). This explains the coexistence of different types of programs in force throughout the country. Nowadays in Italy, among cattle diseases with little or no EU regulations only three are regulated by a national CP: Enzootic Bovine Leukosis, Bluetongue and Paratuberculosis, while Bovine Genital Campylobacteriosis and Trichomonosis are nationwide controlled only in breeding bulls. For some of the remaining diseases (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis, Bovine Viral Diarrhea, Streptococcus agalactiae) specific CPs have been implemented by the regional Authorities, but for most of them a CP does not exist at all. However, there is a growing awareness among farmers and public health authorities that animal diseases have a major impact not only on the farmprofitability but also on animal welfare and on the use of antibiotics in livestock. It is probable that in the near future other CPs will be implemented.
Various European Member States have implemented control or eradication programmes for endemic infectious diseases in cattle. The design of these programmes varies between countries and therefore comparison of the outputs of different control programmes is complex. Although output-based methods to estimate the confidence of freedom resulting from these programmes are under development, as yet there is no practical modeling framework applicable to a variety of infectious diseases. Therefore, a data collection tool was developed to evaluate data availability and quality and to collect actual input data required for such a modeling framework. The aim of the current paper is to present the key learnings from the process of the development of this data collection tool. The data collection tool was developed by experts from two international projects: STOC free (Surveillance Tool for Outcome-based Comparison of FREEdom from infection, www.stocfree.eu) and SOUND control (Standardizing OUtput-based surveillance to control Non-regulated Diseases of cattle in the EU, www.sound-control.eu). Initially a data collection tool was developed for assessment of freedom of bovine viral diarrhea virus in six Western European countries. This tool was then further generalized to enable inclusion of data for other cattle diseases i.e., infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and Johne's disease. Subsequently, the tool was pilot-tested by a Western and Eastern European country, discussed with animal health experts from 32 different European countries and further developed for use throughout Europe. The developed online data collection tool includes a wide range of variables that could reasonably influence confidence of freedom, including those relating to cattle demographics, risk factors for introduction and characteristics of disease control programmes. Our results highlight the fact that data requirements for different cattle diseases can be generalized and easily included in a data collection tool. However, there are large differences in data availability and comparability across European countries, presenting challenges to the development of a standardized data collection tool and modeling framework. These key learnings are important for development of any generic data collection tool for animal disease control purposes. Further, the results can facilitate development of output-based modeling frameworks that aim to calculate confidence of freedom from disease.
Several European countries have implemented country specific programmes to control cattle diseases with little or no regulation in the European Union (EU). These control programmes vary between member states, impairing a confident comparison of freedom from disease when cattle originate from different countries. In order to facilitate safe trade, there is a need to support the development of transparent methods that enable comparison of outputs of surveillance, control or eradication programmes. The aim of the COST Action (CA 17110), Standardizing OUtput-based surveillance to control Non-regulated Diseases in the EU (SOUND control), is the development of a generic and joint understanding of the requirements and characteristics needed for a flexible output-based framework. This framework should be able to substantiate the confidence of disease freedom and cost-effectiveness of heterogeneous surveillance, control or eradication programmes for cattle diseases in the EU. This project supports other initiatives in the development of an output-based framework which will subsequently facilitate safe trade and support the improvement of disease control measures, which is of great importance as the cattle sector contributes to one third of the total gross production value of EU agriculture.