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Journal: Preventive veterinary medicine


Few studies have investigated the effect of having interruptions during training on future training and racing performance in Thoroughbred racehorses. The aim of this paper was to investigate the effect of having an interruption before the first trial on starting in a trial or a race. A prospective cohort study was used to record the training activity of a cohort of Thoroughbred racehorses, over two racing seasons. Fourteen racehorse trainers recorded information on the distances worked at canter and at fast speeds (<15s/200m) and provided reasons for horses not training, or for having interruptions (break from training). Trial and racing results were obtained from the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing online database. A Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to investigate two outcome measures of performance: (1) time to the first trial and (2) time to the first race. The type of interruption that had occurred before the first trial was the main exposure of interest, and was grouped into: no interruption, voluntary (no known condition or disease present) and involuntary interruptions (due to the presence of a condition or disease). A total of 160/200 (80%) horses started in at least one trial and 100/205 (48%) horses started in at least one race during the study period. The median time to starting in a trial or a race differed significantly (p<0.001) with the type of interruption. The hazard of starting in a trial was lower for horses experiencing voluntary and involuntary interruptions (p<0.001) but there was no association with starting in a race, after adjusting for confounding variables. As age at the start of training increased the hazard of starting in a trial decreased. Horses accumulating longer distances at 15s/200m had a higher hazard of starting in a trial, whilst horses accumulating fewer events at high speed and fewer trials had a reduced hazard of starting in a race. There was significant clustering at the trainer level for both the outcomes investigated. Interruptions to training had an effect on the time to, and hazard of, a trial but not a race start. The timing of these interruptions may have implications for future racing success and career longevity.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Experimental design, Horse, Thoroughbred, Horse racing, Arabian horse, Thoroughbred horse race, Flat racing


Pneumonia of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) is a dramatic disease of high morbidity and mortality first described more than 80 years ago. The etiology of the disease has been debated since its initial discovery, and at various times lungworms, Mannheimia haemolytica and other Pasteurellaceae, and Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae have been proposed as primary causal agents. A multi-factorial “respiratory disease complex” has also been proposed as confirmation of causation has eluded investigators. In this paper we review the evidence for each of the candidate primary agents with regard to causal criteria including strength of association, temporality, plausibility, experimental evidence, and analogy. While we find some degree of biological plausibility for all agents and strong experimental evidence for M. haemolytica, we demonstrate that of the alternatives considered, M. ovipneumoniae is the best supported by all criteria and is therefore the most parsimonious explanation for the disease. The strong but somewhat controversial experimental evidence implicating disease transmission from domestic sheep is consistent with this finding. Based on epidemiologic and microbiologic data, we propose that healthy bighorn sheep populations are naïve to M. ovipneumoniae, and that its introduction to susceptible bighorn sheep populations results in epizootic polymicrobial bacterial pneumonia often followed by chronic infection in recovered adults. If this hypothesized model is correct, efforts to control this disease by development or application of vectored vaccines to Pasteurellaceae are unlikely to provide significant benefits, whereas efforts to ensure segregation of healthy bighorn sheep populations from M. ovipneumoniae-infected reservoir hosts are crucial to prevention of new disease epizootics. It may also be possible to develop M. ovipneumoniae vaccines or other management strategies that could reduce the impact of this devastating disease in bighorn sheep.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Bacteria, Causality, Ovis, Mouflon, Bighorn Sheep, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Snow sheep


Endemic animal diseases such as tsetse-transmitted trypanosomosis are a constant drain on the financial resources of African livestock keepers and on the productivity of their livestock. Knowing where the potential benefits of removing animal trypanosomosis are distributed geographically would provide crucial evidence for prioritising and targeting cost-effective interventions as well as a powerful tool for advocacy. To this end, a study was conducted on six tsetse-infested countries in Eastern Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. First, a map of cattle production systems was generated, with particular attention to the presence of draught and dairy animals. Second, herd models for each production system were developed for two scenarios: with or without trypanosomosis. The herd models were based on publications and reports on cattle productivity (fertility, mortality, yields, sales), from which the income from, and growth of cattle populations were estimated over a twenty-year period. Third, a step-wise spatial expansion model was used to estimate how cattle populations might migrate to new areas when maximum stocking rates are exceeded. Last, differences in income between the two scenarios were mapped, thus providing a measure of the maximum benefits that could be obtained from intervening against tsetse and trypanosomosis. For this information to be readily mappable, benefits were calculated per bovine and converted to US$ per square kilometre. Results indicate that the potential benefits from dealing with trypanosomosis in Eastern Africa are both very high and geographically highly variable. The estimated total maximum benefit to livestock keepers for the whole of the study area amounts to nearly US$ 2.5 billion, discounted at 10% over twenty years - an average of approximately US$ 3300 per square kilometre of tsetse-infested area - but with great regional variation from less than US$ 500 per square kilometre to well over US$ 10,000. The greatest potential benefits accrue to Ethiopia, because of its very high livestock densities and the importance of animal traction, but also to parts of Kenya and Uganda. In general, the highest benefit levels occur on the fringes of the tsetse infestations. The implications of the models' assumptions and generalisations are discussed.

Concepts: Africa, Cattle, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Tsetse fly, East Africa, Somalia


In 2011, ten years after the last reported outbreak, the eradication of rinderpest was declared. However, as rinderpest virus stocks still exist, there remains a risk of rinderpest re-introduction. A semi-quantitative risk assessment was conducted to assess this risk, which was defined as the probability of at least one host becoming infected and infectious outside a laboratory anywhere in the world within a one-year period. Pathways leading to rinderpest re-introduction were: deliberate or accidental use of virus in laboratories, deliberate or accidental use of vaccines, host exposure to an environmental source of virus, and use of virus for anti-animal biological warfare. The probability of each pathway step occurring was estimated through expert opinion elicitation. The risk estimate was associated with a high degree of uncertainty. It was estimated to range from negligible to high, with the median being very low. The accidental use of laboratory virus stocks was the highest risk pathway. Reducing the number of virus stocks and restricting their use, as well as upgrading the laboratories to a higher biosafety level, would effectively decrease the maximum and median risks. Likewise, ensuring that remaining vaccine stocks are not used and are instead destroyed or relocated to a limited number of regional repositories would also have a major effect on these estimates. However, these measures are unlikely to eliminate the risk of rinderpest re-introduction so that maintaining response preparedness is essential.

Concepts: Vaccination, Infection, Risk, Risk management, Smallpox, Biological warfare, Eradication of infectious diseases, Rinderpest


In the UK and Ireland, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination of badgers has been suggested as one of a number of strategies to control or even eradicate Mycobacterium bovis infection in badgers. In this manuscript, we present the results of a badger field trial conducted in Ireland and discuss how the novel trial design and analytical methods allowed the effects of vaccination on protection against infection and, more importantly, on transmission to be estimated. The trial area was divided into three zones North to South (A, B and C) where vaccination coverages of 0, 50 and 100%, respectively, were applied. Badgers were trapped over a 4year period. Badgers were assigned to either placebo or vaccine treatment, with treatment allocation occurring randomly in zone B. Blood samples were collected at each capture, and serology was performed in these samples using a chemiluminescent multiplex ELISA system (Enfer test). The analysis aimed to compare new infections occurring in non-infected non-vaccinated badgers to those in non-infected vaccinated ones, while accounting for the zone in which the badger was trapped and the infection pressure to which this individual badger was exposed. In total, 440 records on subsequent trappings of individual non-infected badgers were available for analysis. Over the study period, 55 new infections occurred in non-vaccinated (out of 239=23.0%) and 40 in vaccinated (out of 201=19.9%) badgers. A Generalized Linear Model (GLM) with a cloglog link function was used for analysis. Statistical analysis showed that susceptibility to natural exposure with M. bovis was reduced in vaccinated compared to placebo treated badgers: vaccine efficacy for susceptibility, VES, was 59% (95% CI=6.5%-82%). However, a complete lack of effect from BCG vaccination on the infectivity of vaccinated badgers was observed, i.e. vaccine efficacy for infectiousness (VEI) was 0%. Further, the basic reproduction ratio as a function of vaccination coverage (p) (i.e. R(p)) was estimated. Given that the prevalence of M. bovis infection in badgers in endemic areas in Ireland is approximately 18%, we estimated the reproduction ratio in the unvaccinated population as R(0)=1.22. Because VES was now known, the reproduction ratio for a fully vaccinated population was estimated as R(1)=0.50. These results imply that with vaccination coverage in badgers exceeding 30%, eradication of M. bovis in badgers in Ireland is feasible, provided that the current control measures also remain in place.

Concepts: Immune system, Statistics, Malaria, Vaccine, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, Badger


Pig production in Kenya is hampered by seasonal markets. As an alternative outlet for the finished pigs, several value-added meat-processing firms have been established. Sausage, which is produced using casings derived from intestines of pigs, is one form of processed meats. Kenya imports several kgs of natural casings every year; and a recent concern is Swine vesicular disease virus (SVDV), which has never been reported in Kenya, might be introduced via natural casings imported from Italy. To determine conditions (with associated probabilities) that could lead to the introduction of SVDV, a quantitative risk assessment model was developed. Using Monte Carlo simulations at 10,000 iterations, the probability of introducing SVDV was estimated to be 1.9x10-8. Based on the suggested volume of import and mitigations used in the analysis, contaminated casings derived from an estimated 0.003 (Range = 8.1x10-8 - 0.08) infected pigs will be included in the consignment each year. The critical pathway analysis revealed that rigorous surveillance programs in Italy have a potential to dramatically reduce the risk of introducing SVDV into Kenya by this route.


Knowledge of risk factors for canine obesity is an important pre-requisite of effective preventative strategies. This study aimed to investigate risk factors for canine obesity in adult companion dogs across Zealand, Denmark. Client-owned dogs (>2 years of age and without chronic illness) were recruited and examined at eight companion animal veterinary practices in areas with varying socio-economic characteristics. The body condition score (BCS) of the dogs was examined by two investigators based on a 9-point scoring scheme. Dog owners answered a questionnaire that had prompts regarding: 1) dog characteristics, including neuter status, 2) owner characteristics, 3) feeding and exercise practices and 4) the owners' attachment to the dog. The effect of these factors on BCS and the risk of being heavy/obese (BCS scores 7-9) were analysed in two separate analyses. A total of 268 dogs were included in the analysis, of which 20.5% were found to be heavy/obese. The average BCS was 5.46. In terms of dog characteristics, neutering dramatically increased both BCS and the risk of being heavy/obese in male dogs but not in bitches. BCS and the risk of being heavy/obese increased in senior bitches and decreased in senior male dogs. The risk of being heavy/obese was higher in dogs with overweight and obese owners. Regarding feeding and exercise practices, providing only one meal per day increased BCS and risk of being heavy/obese. Treats during relaxation increased the risk of dogs being heavy/obese. It also increased the dogs' BCS, but only if the owners were overweight or obese. An increased duration of daily walking increased the risk of the dog being heavy/obese, but only if the owner was overweight or obese. Allowing the dog to run free in the garden/property decreased the risk of the dog being heavy/obese. The owners' attachment to the dog was not associated with the dogs' BCS or dogs' being heavy/obese. An important and novel finding was that neutering increased the risk of being overweight or obese for male dogs while bitches were at risk irrespective of neuter status. Furthermore, a complex interaction between owners' weight status, feeding practices and the risk of dogs being overweight or obese was found, which stresses the need to consider companion animal obesity from a One Health perspective in future prospective studies. Finally, this study was unable to confirm that canine obesity is a product of owners being too attached to their dogs.


The camel milk trade in Kenya has evolved significantly from a small-scale business undertaken in local villages to its current status involving a large number of different stakeholders supplying urban towns, particularly Nairobi City. Despite the evident growth pattern, the supply of camel milk to Nairobi has largely remained informal, with minimal enforcement of regulations. The aim of this study was to characterise the camel milk system supplying Nairobi and assess its governance, main challenges and the potential food safety risk practices. A value chain analysis framework was used to carry out data collection between August 2014 and July 2015. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews with stakeholders operating in different nodes of the value chains. Three milk value chains supplying Nairobi were identified and mapped: the Isiolo chain, the Kajiado chain and the camel milk processing company chain. Overall, the results indicate that 94% of the milk supplied to Nairobi city is informally traded (traded without any effective regulation), while 6% originates from a formal milk processing company. In the informal chains, milk traders (mostly women) were reported to play a pivotal role in the organisation and daily functioning of the chains. The processing company had partly integrated activities and reported exporting 5% of their products to regional and international markets. Food safety themes identified were associated with i) lack of cold chain, ii) gaps in hygiene practices, particularly at farm and market levels, iii) consumption of raw camel milk, and iv) lack of food safety training, among other issues. Low level involvement by government agencies in enforcing stipulated food safety measures were reported in the informal chains, as these concentrate efforts in the regulation of dairy milk chains. Isiolo milk traders were identified as the dominant group, setting milk prices and providing sanctions. The framework and findings obtained can help future research and policy makers to reach informed decision about what to regulate, where to target and importantly how to make the camel milk value chain more efficient and safer.


Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle is a global health problem and eradication of the disease requires accurate estimates of diagnostic test performance to optimize their efficiency. The objective of this study was, through statistical meta-analyses, to obtain estimates of sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Sp), for 14 different ante-mortem and post-mortem diagnostic tests for bTB in cattle. Using data from a systematic review of the scientific literature (published 1934-2009) diagnostic Se and Sp were estimated using Bayesian logistic regression models adjusting for confounding factors. Random effect terms were used to account for unexplained heterogeneity. Parameters in the models were implemented using Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), and posterior distributions for the diagnostic parameters with adjustment for covariates (confounding factors) were obtained using the inverse logit function. Estimates for Se and/or Sp of the tuberculin skin tests and the IFN-γ blood test were compared with estimates published 2010-2015. Median Se for the single intradermal comparative cervical tuberculin skin (SICCT) test (standard interpretation) was 0.50 and Bayesian credible intervals (CrI) were wide (95% CrI 0.26, 0.78). Median Sp for the SICCT test was 1.00 (95% CrI 0.99, 1.00). Estimates for the IFN-γ blood test Bovine Purified Protein Derivative (PPD)-Avian PPD and Early Secreted Antigen target 6 and Culture Filtrate Protein 10 (ESAT-6/CFP10) ESAT6/CFP10 were 0.67 (95% CrI 0.49, 0.82) and 0.78 (95% CrI 0.60, 0.90) respectively for Se, and 0.98 (95% CrI 0.96, 0.99) and 0.99 (95% CrI 0.99, 1.00) for Sp. The study provides an overview of the accuracy of a range of contemporary diagnostic tests for bTB in cattle. Better understanding of diagnostic test performance is essential for the design of effective control strategies and their evaluation.


As the world continues to react and respond inefficiently to emerging infectious diseases, such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome and the Ebola and Zika viruses, a growing transdisciplinary community has called for a more proactive and holistic approach to prevention and preparedness - One Health. Such an approach presents important opportunities to reduce the impact of disease emergence events and also to mitigate future emergence through improved cross-sectoral coordination. In an attempt to provide proof of concept of the utility of the One Health approach, the US Agency for International Development’s PREDICT project consortium designed and implemented a targeted, risk-based surveillance strategy based not on humans as sentinels of disease but on detecting viruses early, at their source, where intervention strategies can be implemented before there is opportunity for spillover and spread in people or food animals. Here, we share One Health approaches used by consortium members to illustrate the potential for successful One Health outcomes that can be achieved through collaborative, transdisciplinary partnerships. PREDICT’s collaboration with partners around the world on strengthening local capacity to detect hundreds of viruses in wild animals, coupled with a series of cutting-edge virological and analytical activities, have significantly improved our baseline knowledge on the zoonotic pool of viruses and the risk of exposure to people. Further testament to the success of the project’s One Health approach and the work of its team of dedicated One Health professionals are the resulting 90 peer-reviewed, scientific publications in under 5 years that improve our understanding of zoonoses and the factors influencing their emergence. The findings are assisting in global health improvements, including surveillance science, diagnostic technologies, understanding of viral evolution, and ecological driver identification. Through its One Health leadership and multi-disciplinary partnerships, PREDICT has forged new networks of professionals from the human, animal, and environmental health sectors to promote global health, improving our understanding of viral disease spillover from wildlife and implementing strategies for preventing and controlling emerging disease threats.

Concepts: Better, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Human, Improve, Microbiology, Infection, Holism