In the present study, a comprehensive evaluation of the currently implemented surveillance system for Classical Swine fever (CSF) in German wild boar was conducted and compared to alternative, risk-based surveillance strategies. Risk-factors for infection of wild boar with the CSF-virus and for detection of wild boar infected with CSF were identified and used to inform and develop alternative surveillance strategies. The currently applied surveillance strategy was defined as the reference strategy. The study area targeted the federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate (RP) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (MV).
To assess the performance of the surveillance strategies, sensitivity and timeliness of the strategies were examined utilizing a simulation model, parameterized with real data from RP and MV. These included estimates of population size, data regarding population structure, hunting data and the serological course of CSF-infection in wild boar. The sensitivity was determined by measuring the probability of detection of a CSF-infection within one year. Timeliness was defined as the time between introduction and detection of a CSF-infection. The acceptability of the surveillance strategies was examined using methods of participatory epidemiology. Due to the key role of hunters within the surveillance system for CSF in wild boar, the acceptability of the currently used and the alternative surveillance strategies by hunters was analyzed and compared. The cost-effectiveness of the surveillance strategies was investigated with the help of the simulation model.
Age, population density, seasonality and the examination of samples, resulting from passive surveillance were identified as risk-factors. On the basis of these factors, 31 additional surveillance strategies were developed and evaluated against the reference strategy. As it was not possible to investigate all evaluation attributes for each surveillance strategy, the analyses were conducted in different blocks, in which the strategies for the same evaluation attributes were investigated and compared to each other.
In three of the four blocks, an age-dependent surveillance strategy showed the best overall result. The strategy, in which sampling took place only within the age class of sub-adults, resulted in the highest level of acceptability by the hunters. In this strategy timeliness was slightly higher than in the currently implemented strategy. However, both cost and detection probability were almost the same.
It was shown that risk-based surveillance strategies can provide effective alternatives to conventional surveillance.
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