Australian beef producers’ knowledge and attitudes relating to hydatid disease are associated with their control practices

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Abstract

Despite available control strategies, hydatid disease in beef cattle has been shown to have a wider geographic range and higher prevalence than previously recognised in Australia. The aim of the current study was to determine whether producer knowledge and attitudes are associated with farm management practices that could influence transmission among domestic dogs, wildlife, livestock and humans. Between June and August 2019, a cross-sectional study was conducted among beef producers throughout Australia (N = 62). Producers were asked to complete an online survey to obtain information on their knowledge about hydatid disease, their attitudes towards the disease and their farm management practices that could affect transmission. Descriptive statistics were conducted to investigate potential predictors for practices that might influence transmission of the parasite. A Bayesian network (BN) model was then constructed to evaluate the interrelationships between variables. The results show that most respondents (87 %; 54/62) had heard of hydatid disease. However, only 61 % of respondents knew how hydatid disease is transmitted (38/62) and only half knew how to prevent transmission (52 %; 32/62). Of respondents that knew that hydatid disease could affect humans (44/62), many did not think their family was at risk (46 %, 20/44) because they dewormed their dogs and prevented their dogs’ access to offal. However, most respondents who owned dogs did not deworm their dogs frequently enough to prevent patency of Echinococcus granulosus infection (86 %; 49/57). Almost all respondents (94 %; 58/62) said they would take action if they found out their cattle were infected. BN analysis revealed that implementation of practices that could reduce the risk of hydatid disease transmission were associated with producers’ knowledge and attitudes. In the model, practices were most influenced by attitudes (percentage change in variance = 42 %). All respondents in the “hydatid prevention” practices group were in the “good” knowledge group and the “less concerned” attitudes group. In comparison, most of the respondents in the “standard husbandry” practices group were in the “poor” knowledge group and the “more concerned” attitudes group. In summary, the results indicate that greater knowledge of hydatid disease among beef producers is associated with practices that reduce hydatid risk and attitudes of less concern about hydatid impact on properties. Therefore, increasing producer knowledge is warranted to encourage adoption and improvement of hydatid prevention practices and would be well received by beef producers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105078
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Volume182
Early online date26 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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