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Ahead of Print -Accuracy of Herdsmen Reporting versus Serologic Testing for Estimating Foot-and-Mouth Disease Prevalence - Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

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Ahead of Print -Accuracy of Herdsmen Reporting versus Serologic Testing for Estimating Foot-and-Mouth Disease Prevalence - Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

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Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014


Accuracy of Herdsmen Reporting versus Serologic Testing for Estimating Foot-and-Mouth Disease Prevalence

Kenton L. MorganComments to Author , Ian G. Handel, Vincent N. Tanya, Saidou M. Hamman, Charles Nfon1, Ingrid E. Bergman, Viviana Malirat, Karl J. Sorensen, and Barend M. de C. Bronsvoort
Author affiliations: University of Liverpool, Neston, Wirral, UK (K.L. Morgan)University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Scotland, UK (I.G. Handel, B.M. de C. Bronsvoort)Institute of Agricultural Research for Development, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon (V.N. Tanya, S.M. Hamman, C. Nfon)Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation, Yaoundé, Cameroon (V.N. Tanya)Pan American Foot and Mouth Disease Center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (I.E. Bergman, V. Malirat)Danish Veterinary Institute for Virus Research, Kalvehave, Denmark (K.J. Sorensen);Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Dr. César Milstein, Buenos Aires, Argentina (I.E. Bergman, V. Malirat)


Herdsman-reported disease prevalence is widely used in veterinary epidemiologic studies, especially for diseases with visible external lesions; however, the accuracy of such reports has not been validated. Thus, we used latent class analysis in a Bayesian framework to compare sensitivity and specificity of herdsman reporting with virus neutralization testing and use of 3 nonstructural protein ELISAs for estimates of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) prevalence on the Adamawa plateau of Cameroon in 2000. Herdsman-reported estimates in this FMD-endemic area were comparable to those obtained from serologic testing. To harness to this cost-effective resource of monitoring emerging infectious diseases, we suggest that estimates of the sensitivity and specificity of herdsmen reporting should be done in parallel with serologic surveys of other animal diseases.
Owner-, farmer-, or herdsman-reported disease prevalence is widely used in veterinary epidemiologic studies (16), especially for diseases that produce visible external lesions (e.g., ovine myiasis, foot-and-mouth disease [FMD]) (1,5) or characteristic clinical signs (e.g., scrapie) (7). For such interview- or questionnaire-based reporting, a common criticism is lack of external validation because questionnaires, like other measuring devices, need to be calibrated. External validation is usually approached by comparing questionnaire data with data measured by other methods such as visual inspection (810), photographs (11), selection of clinical signs (2,4), laboratory test results (12), or other (4,13). These approaches, however, are difficult to use in poorer countries and pastoral populations, where there are limited resources and no comparison data. We estimated sensitivity and specificity of herdsman-reported FMD prevalence in the Adamawa plateau, Cameroon, and compared herdsmen’s estimates with serologic test results.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of even-toed ungulates, caused by FMD viruses in the family Picornaviridae. Globally, FMD is a major disease of livestock because it leads to production losses and restrictions on trade with FMD-free countries (14). Clinical signs in cattle are distinct: vesicles on the tongue, gums, coronary band, and occasionally, udder. Animals salivate and are febrile, lame, and inappetant. Ruptured vesicles leave ulcers with characteristic underrun epithelial tissue at the edges (15).
To assess herdsmen’s ability to correctly identify FMD and to compare the sensitivity and specificity of herdsman reporting with that of serologic testing, we conducted a cross-sectional study of FMD on the Adamawa plateau, the major cattle-rearing area of Cameroon. We used a structured questionnaire, administered by interview, to determine whether herdsmen had seen FMD in their herds in the previous 1 and 2 years (5,16). Their ability to correctly identify FMD was also assessed by showing them color photographs of typical lesions. To estimate the sensitivity and specificity of the various estimates, we used Bayesian latent class models. These estimates were arrived at by restricting the age of cattle analyzed by virus neutralization (VN) testing to <2 years and by adopting evidence that nonstructural protein (NSP) antibody titers fall more rapidly (over ≈1 year) than VN antibodies (17,18). The study was conducted in accordance with the Cameroonian Ministry of Research guidelines and with approval from the University of Liverpool ethics committee in 1999.

Dr Morgan is a veterinarian at the University of Liverpool. His research interests include racehorse injuries, exotic and endemic diseases of farmed animals, aquatic animal health, molecular epidemiology of rotavirus, and use of machine learning in epidemiology.


We thank all the herdsmen, heads of veterinary centers, and regional Ministère de l'Elevage, des Pêches et des Industries Animales delegates who made this study possible.
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust (WT 053480). B.M. de C.B. held a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship in Tropical Epidemiology but reports no conflict of interest. Cattle were sampled by a veterinary surgeon with the cattle owners’ consent.


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Suggested citation for this article: Morgan KL, Handel IG, Tanya VN, Hamman SM, Nfon C, Bergman IE, et al. Accuracy of herdsmen reporting versus serologic testing for estimating foot-and-mouth disease prevalence. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2014 Dec [date cited].http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2012.140931
DOI: 10.3201/eid2012.140931
1Current affiliation: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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