#EpiC_Friday_Shares no.6

After a short break due to the Swedish Midsummer celebrations and working hard on launching the special edition of Frontiers in Veterinary Science on Slaughterhouses as Sources of Data for Animal Health Intelligence (see our previous post), Epi-Connect is back for a new #EpiC_Friday_Share with news from the animal health, research and epidemiological world.

Alpine grazing, Morzine, France. ©Epi-Connect
Alpine grazing, Morzine, France.

Animal health

  • United Egg Producers, which represents 95 percent of US egg farmers, has announced plans to stop culling male chicks by 2020. The solution to culling male chicks is to stop them from being born in the first place… not a mean feat. Recent promising research from Germany showed that the sex of a chick can be determined inside the egg and unborn male embryos can thus be more humanely disposed of, with the eggs being used in things like vaccine research, or pet food production. Once the ovo-sexing technology is made commercially available, an increase in its uptake by the poultry industry is expected.


  • In line with our recent post on research on antimicrobial resistance, this article by PigProgress “Antibiotics high on British pig industry’s agenda” caught our eye. The British pig industry has launched a number of initiatives to collect quantitative data on actual on-farm antimicrobial usage through a newly-introduced online medicines book. In less than 2 months, antibiotic data for over 1.2m pigs have been contributed by pig producers…waoh, that’s impressive! I really look forward to seeing how such data will be used to inform decision-making in the next couple of years.


  • Another article from the PigProgress has caught our attention this week. This short and accessible article focuses on the African swine fever situation in Africa and the under-funded efforts to reduce pressure from the virus onto the pig industry there.


  • This article written by Delia Grace from the International Livestock Research Institute is one of those articles I wish I had written. It touches on all the topics I feel strongly about: One Health, zoonoses, disease surveillance, pandemics, developing communities and animal production systems. Enough said, go and read “Pandemic Proofing the World: An epidemiologist in Nairobi on the next Zika virus”.


Other news of interest

  • Epi-Connect is a big advocate for open data and open science, and I often lament the lack of open initiatives in the animal health sector. So, for those of you in the field interested in enhancing  transparency in science communication, I am sharing a super cool guide to Reproducibility in Science published on Github.


  • For those of you statistically-minded, this BuzzFeed article provides a good introduction to the topic of causality . Accessible language, easy to grasp diagrams, this post should be the first in a series on how to correctly estimate causal effects in systems on which controlled experiments cannot be performed.


  • I could not believe it when I found out that Dolly the Sheep was born 20 years ago almost to the day. I clearly remember watching it on the 8pm French news, not quite grasping the enormity of the scientific achievement but thinking about what the next years may be able to bring in terms of science fiction-like fantasies. The scientific journal Nature ran a story this week to celebrate Dolly and her creators interviewing some of the researchers, technicians and assistants who worked together on producing the first adult clone. Some rather touching testimonies, bringing a human perspective to the Dolly phenomenon.

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