Evaluation of post-farm-gate passive surveillance in swine for the detection of foot and mouth disease in Australia

M. Hernández-Jover, N. Cogger, P Martin, N. Schembri, P. K. Holyoake, J. A L M L Toribio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Pigs are considered high risk for the introduction and spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Australia. One of the most likely pathways of introduction of FMD into Australia would be through the illegal importation of FMD-contaminated meat, which is then fed to feral or domestic pigs. Locations where animals from different origins are commingled, such as livestock markets and abattoirs, pose a risk for disease spread. Early detection of exotic diseases at these locations is crucial in limiting the spread of an outbreak. The aims of this study were to evaluate the likelihood of exotic disease detection with current passive disease surveillance activities for pigs at saleyards and abattoirs in eastern Australia, and make recommendations for improving surveillance. Sensitivity (Se) of the current post-farm-gate passive surveillance for detection of exotic diseases was estimated using the scenario tree modelling methodology (Martin et al., 2007a). Four surveillance system components were identified: (i) domestic saleyard, (ii) export saleyard, (iii) domestic abattoir, and (iv) export abattoir. Pig farms were classified according to herd size (Small vs. Large) and subsequently into two risk categories depending on the probability of swill feeding (Swill feeding vs. Not swill feeding). A scenario tree representing the pathways by which infected animals could be detected was developed and the Se of detection in each surveillance system component was estimated. Industry statistics, information on previous exotic disease outbreaks, and interviews with pig producers were used to estimate herd category proportions and the relative risk of swill feeding. Quantitative estimates for probabilities of detection were sourced from State legislation and policies, stakeholder consultation and observational studies at saleyards and abattoirs. Results of a FMD case study showed a Se of detection at a representative location for each surveillance system component during a 2-week period of 0.19 at domestic saleyards, 0.40 at export saleyards, 0.32 at domestic abattoirs and, 0.53 at export abattoirs. This output assumed the country was infected with herd and unit design prevalences of 1% and 30%, respectively. Improving disease awareness of saleyard and abattoir stockmen, increasing the presence of inspectors at these venues and identifying those herds posing a higher risk for FMD introduction, could improve the capacity of the country for early detection of emerging animal diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-186
Number of pages16
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number3-4
Early online dateMay 2011
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of post-farm-gate passive surveillance in swine for the detection of foot and mouth disease in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this