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Evaluation of herd-level sampling strategies for control of Salmonella in Swedish cattle

Ågren, E.C.C., Lewerin, S. Sternberg, Frössling, J.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.11 pp. 10177-10190
Salmonella, bulk milk, calves, feces, herds, laws and regulations, models, monitoring, relative risk, serology, serotypes, Sweden
Based on Swedish legislation, all herds where Salmonella of any serotype is detected are put under restrictions, and measures aiming at eradication are required. Costs for sampling and control have increased in recent years and the aim of this study was to investigate the efficiency of different sampling strategies. We also compiled test results from recent surveillance activities and used these to complement and compare with calculated results. Sensitivities and specificities at group and herd level were calculated for different test strategies. A scenario-tree modeling approach was used to account for the hierarchy of animals within herds, and different relative risk of salmonella in different age groups. Negative and positive predictive values (NPV and PPV), and probability of freedom from Salmonella were calculated to compare the added value of different sampling strategies. Results showed that more fecal samples than serological samples per group are needed to reach a group sensitivity >0.50. This also means that serological testing leads to a higher NPV. For example, with 10 negative test-results from a group of 25 animals in a herd with a suspicion of Salmonella, the NPV based on serology was 0.75 and based on culture was 0.56. For the PPV, testing based on culture from fecal sampling was superior, as specificity of such testing was close to perfect. By changing the threshold for considering a group positive, from 1 test-positive animal to 2, the PPV of serological results could be increased without substantial loss in NPV. The herd sensitivity based on (1) bulk milk sampling, (2) fecal sampling of all animals, and (3) bulk milk sampling and individual sera from 20 animals within each age group was 0.53, 0.88, and 0.95, respectively. In low-prevalence regions, this sensitivity was enough to verify a high probability of freedom (>0.99), as the probability of infection in such Swedish regions has been shown to be 0.01. For herds with a higher prior probability of infection, repeated sampling (2–9 sampling occasions) was needed to reach the same level of confidence. Analysis of surveillance data indicated that boot swabs can be used to replace the standard fecal sampling presently used in Sweden. It was also confirmed that the individual specificity of the tests used for serological testing of Swedish calves is high (0.99). The results can form a basis for fit-for-purpose testing strategies (e.g., surveillance or prepurchase testing).