- To continue with the bovine TB/badger topic I have already written about earlier this week, recent work by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London casts doubts about the extent to which badgers cause TB in cattle. The authors used connectedness network analysis to look at the spatial and temporal dynamics of TB between cattle and badgers. They found that badgers mainly spread the disease locally while cattle infected both locally and across longer distances. Furthermore, the route of infection for cattle is mostly from other cattle rather than from other species. Reciprocally, badgers are mainly infected by other infected badgers. These findings have implications on bovine TB management strategy. The paper is published in the journal Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment.
- An interesting insight on the role of stallions in the spread of venereal diseases can be found on the New Zealand website Horsetalk. Asymptomatic carriers can disseminate infectious agents among mares , either through natural service or artificial insemination. Several outbreaks in the US in the last 10 years illustrate how this may result in the transfer of infection from one breeding season to the next. Reliable
laboratory screening of horses used for breeding is crucially important to the success of control programs for equine herpesvirus and other venereal diseases.
- The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe is an umbrella organisation of veterinary organisations from 38 European countries. They recently released a call to to end suffering of animals during long distance transport and export of livestock. Standards for the welfare of animals during transport do exist (Regulation (EC) N 1/2005) but are not uniformly implemented and enforced, in particular at border crossings. The federation urges the competent authorities of exporting countries to assume their responsibility to achieve acceptable standards for animal health and welfare during transport.
- More on network analyses…(social) networks analysis are increasingly used in veterinary epidemiology to study livestock movements. A network is obtained by considering livestock holdings as nodes in a network and movements among holdings as links among nodes. Social networks analysis enables the study of the network as a whole, exploring all the relationships among pairs of farms. In a recent Preventive Veterinary Medicine paper, Gorsich and colleagues mapped U.S. cattle shipment networks to better understand spatial and temporal patterns of trade communities and inform the design of disease surveillance and control strategies.
- The Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK has written an interesting blog post on the opportunities and challenges of open data for agriculture. How can open data solve some of our challenges for food production? The Open Data Institute suggests that data is infrastructure for the digital economy, leading those who have access to data to decisions informed by evidence. The UK leads the way, making their government data open. Ian Boyd rightly states that it is not enough, “People need to be led through the data in ways that allow them to answer questions”. We couldn’t agree more on how good analytics and visual tools are essential to making the right business decisions (and Epi-Connect can help you do exactly that!).