Tackling Challenges Of Animal Health Surveillance

FRANCE - Assessing animal health surveillance systems is a major issue, says CIRAD.
calendar icon 2 June 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

To guarantee the efficacy of animal disease surveillance systems, researchers from France's Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and their partners have developed innovative assessment tools. Contrary to the methods used to date, these tools enable quantitative analyses.

Controlling animal diseases effectively means reacting rapidly to epizootics. Meeting this challenge is vitally important in the South, where resources (scientific skills, funding, IT facilities, etc) are limited. At present, the key to success is to build surveillance networks, but that success can only be maintained long term by regular, objective assessment of surveillance methods.

The assessment methods used as a rule are generally qualitative or semi-qualitative. This makes them highly subjective, as they are based on the knowledge and expertise of the assessor. Tools that produce quantitative results are therefore required.

Four innovative approaches are currently being developed, in the laboratory and in the field, through the Revasia research programme coordinated by CIRAD:

  • the capture-recapture technique, which reflects problems with detecting infected epidemiological units. In particular, it minimizes problems of under-detection
  • probabilistic approaches, by constructing decision trees , which serve to assess the sensitivity of the system
  • socio-economic assessments , which take account of the social impact of implementing surveillance, a source of under-declaration, and
  • mathematical modelling of epidemics or of information flows from contact networks , which serves to test the different sampling techniques and surveillance strategies.

These innovative tools were presented at the 1st International Conference on Animal Health Surveillance (ICAHS), to be held in Lyons from 17 to 20 May 2011, and will also be presented on 29 June in Paris at a meeting between representatives from the French Ministry of Agriculture (DGAL), INRA and ANSES on the research being conducted under the Fonds de soutien à la recherche influenza aviaire (FRIA). They have already been presented at an international seminar organised at the end of 2010 by CIRAD and Kasetsart University as part of the GREASE network, a priority research platform for CIRAD and the Revasia research programme. For the first time in Southeast Asia, the seminar brought together more than 60 researchers specialising in surveillance, from Southeast Asia, the UK and the United States (Bangkok, 15-17 December 2010).

For more information on the research programmes, click here.

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