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Understanding and predicting the influence of animal movement on the spread of transboundary animal diseases

Madin, Ben (2011) Understanding and predicting the influence of animal movement on the spread of transboundary animal diseases. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The aim of this thesis is to evaluate the potential of using existing and new data on disease outbreaks, livestock movements and prices to predict where outbreaks may occur.

An evaluation of the information on disease outbreaks stored in the regional animal health database was undertaken to determine if any relationship could be seen between outbreak locations over time and whether it would be possible to identify disease outbreaks early enough that they could be used in the prediction of disease spread. This work showed that disease reporting is incomplete and inconsistent, making it vital that increased effort is put into better outbreak investigation (including laboratory confirmation) and more timely reporting.

Information on the movement of animals through Cambodia and Laos was obtained to investigate patterns of movement. These data were incomplete, however application of network analysis techniques offered important insights into high risk areas for disease management. The full potential of this approach was established by applying it to Western Australian data from the National Livestock Information System.

Data on price were obtained in Cambodia and Laos to compare with the known movements to identify whether this could be used to predict animal movements. To overcome the complexity of collecting comprehensive data about different classes of animals, multilevel modelling was used to investigate the association of livestock movement with price difference between provinces.

Although the control of transboundary animal diseases is critically important for the economy of South East Asia, at the moment it is ineffective. It is unlikely that regional disease control programmes such as the South East Asia and China foot and mouth disease campaign will reach their potential until reliable, high-quality reports of disease are available to guide their design and implementation. Adding to the difficulty of this is the very sparse information available on the movement of animals across the region and the difficulty and expense involved in obtaining these data. Differences in market price between provinces may have a role in predicting animal movements; however, matching price to movements is difficult, and in this study appeared to only be useful over relatively short distances by regional standards.

Lack of a reliable means of identifying individual animals, regulatory and financial disincentives for using formal pathways for animal movement and a disregard for complying with government requirements to advise of animal movements make it difficult to follow animals as they move rapidly across the region. A new approach to animal movement management is required in which hazard reduction instead of revenue collection is the focus.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Supervisor(s): Robertson, Ian, Edwards, John and Hawkins, Chris
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