Syndromic surveillance is a well described tool used in developed countries for alerting authorities to livestock disease incursions. However, little work has been done to evaluate whether this could be a viable tool in countries where disease reporting infrastructure and resources is poor. Consequently, a syndrome-based questionnaire study in Eastern Zambia was designed to gather data on previous encounters farmers had with poultry diseases, as well as control measures they use to mitigate them. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to analyse the data. Farmers reported an overall annual disease incidence in rural poultry for eastern Zambia of 31% (90% CI 29–32%). Occurrence of poultry disease in the last 12 months was associated with use of middlemen to purchase poultry products (p = 0.05, OR = 7.87), poultry products sold or given away from the farm (p = 0.01, OR = 1.92), farmers experiencing a period with more trade of poultry and its products (p = 0.04, OR = 1.70), presence of wild birds near the farm or village (p = 0.00, OR = 2.47) and poultry diseases being reported from neighbouring farms or villages (p = 0.00, OR = 3.12). The study also tentatively identified three poultry diseases (Newcastle Disease, Gumboro Disease and Fowl Pox) from the thirty-four disease syndromes provided by farmers. Farmers reported an incidence of 27% for Newcastle Disease in 2014. When compared with the state veterinary services data which reported Newcastle Disease incidence at 9% in 2014, it seems syndromic data obtained from farmers may be more sensitive in identifying disease incursion. Thirty-six remedies and strategies farmers use to treat and control these diseases were revealed. The main control strategy for identified diseases was vaccination and the main treatment was unspecified herbs, which warrants further investigation and presents an opportunity for further research in ethno-veterinary medicine. More still, this study identified chilli, Aloe Vera, garlic onion, moringa, and ash as traditional remedies that are commonly being used in Eastern Zambia, and which are also used to treat poultry diseases in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Only fourteen remedies described are conventionally accepted by veterinarians as remedies and disease control measures for poultry diseases. This study shows that syndromic data obtained from farmers is a useful disease reporting tool and could be used as an effective means of alerting authorities to disease incursion. In addition, it shows that these data may give a more accurate estimate of incidence for certain diseases than current surveillance methods and could be useful in assessing significant risk factors associated with disease occurrence.
Mubamba, C., Ramsay, G., Abolnik, C., Dautu, G., & Gummow, B. (2018). Is syndromic data from rural poultry farmers a viable poultry disease reporting tool and means of identifying likely farmer responses to poultry disease incursion? Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 153, 84-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2018.03.002