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Cost and sensitivity of on-farm versus slaughterhouse surveys for prevalence estimation and substantiating freedom from disease

Schärrer, Sara, Schwermer, Heinzpeter, Presi, Patrick, Lindberg, Ann, Zinsstag, Jakob, Reist, Martin
Preventive veterinary medicine 2015 v.120 no.1 pp. 51-61
bluetongue, cost effectiveness, cross-sectional studies, dairy cattle, databases, epizootic diseases, farms, herds, human resources, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, milk, monitoring, slaughter, slaughterhouses, surveys
Within the framework of Swiss surveillance for epizootic diseases, dairy cattle are sampled using bulk tank milk while non-dairy cattle are sampled on the farm. The latter method is costly, time-demanding and dangerous for the personnel. However, slaughterhouses could be an alternative sampling point for this population.To assess the cost-effectiveness and sensitivity of such an approach, surveillance using slaughterhouse sampling was modelled with data from the 2012 Swiss animal movement database (AMD). We simulated a cross-sectional study for bluetongue (BT), and surveillance programmes to substantiate freedom from infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and enzootic bovine leucosis (EBL) (combined) to compare the outcome of random on-farm sampling versus slaughterhouse sampling.We found that, under Swiss conditions, slaughterhouse sampling results in low herd-level sensitivities because animals are sent by owners to slaughter individually and not in large groups, restricting the number of samples per herd. This makes slaughterhouse sampling inappropriate for prevalence surveys at the herd-level. However, for prevalence surveys at the animal-level and for substantiation of freedom from disease, slaughterhouse surveillance is equally or more cost-efficient than on-farm sampling.