New Disease Surveillance Models Offer Advantages

25 October 2012, at 12:20pm

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Prince Edward Island suggests new models being used to demonstrate freedom from specific livestock diseases could become the standard within four to six years, writes Bruce Cochrane.

New models being used since 2007 to track specific diseases are gaining in popularity and acceptance. Canadian Swine Surveillance for Trade was discussed last week as part of the 2012 Canadian Swine Health Forum in Winnipeg.

Dr Raphael Vanderstichel, a research associate with the University of Prince Edward Island, says disease surveillance has an important role to play in trade because a lot of decisions on whether to import will be based on the disease status of the country that's exporting.

Dr Raphael Vanderstichel-University of Prince Edward Island:

Trichinella and Pseudorabies are the two diseases that we're working on for trade. We don't have them in Canada but the issue is that we have to demonstrate that we don't have these diseases for trade.

The traditional approach is to do these repeated surveys. surveys where you test a large number of animals against a specific disease and when they come back negative if you don't have it then essentially we are confident to a certain amount that we don't have that disease.

Normally these tests, for example like Trichinella, is done annually. Every year these tests are done ongoing in slaughter plants.

Other times it's a program where you go out and do a large amount of testing such as has been done with an ELISA test against Trichinella on sows.

The changes are quite simple. Instead of looking at each surveillance activity as a separate entity, what we're trying to do is link them together. Knowing very well that a few years ago we didn't have the disease then how can we use that information to today's surveillance to improve the activities and also our estimates.

Dr Vanderstichel says this approach requires testing of fewer animals so it is less expensive. He says these models are being used in other production systems and foresees them starting taking off in four to six years.