Comparing surveillance approaches to support regaining free status after a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak
Following an FMD eradication program, surveillance will be required to demonstrate that the program has been successful. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) provides guidelines including waiting periods and appropriate surveillance to support regaining FMD-free status. Serological surveillance is the recommended method for demonstrating freedom but is time consuming and expensive. New technologies such as real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) tests and sampling techniques such as bulk milk testing (BMT) of dairy cattle, oral swabs, and saliva collection with rope tethers in piggeries could enable surveillance to be done more efficiently. Epidemiological modelling was used to simulate FMD outbreaks, with and without emergency vaccination as part of the response, in Australia. Baseline post-outbreak surveillance approaches for unvaccinated and vaccinated animals based on the European FMD directive were compared with alternative approaches in which the sampling regime, sampling approaches and/or the diagnostic tests used were varied. The approaches were compared in terms of the resources required, time taken, cost, and effectiveness i.e., ability of the surveillance regime to correctly identify the infection status of herds. In the non-vaccination scenarios, the alternative approach took less time to complete and cost less, with the greatest benefits seen with larger outbreaks. In vaccinated populations, the alternative surveillance approaches significantly reduced the number of herds sampled, the total number of tests done and costs of the post-outbreak surveillance. There was no reduction in effectiveness using the alternative approaches, with one of the benefits being a reduction in the number of false positive herds. Alternative approaches to FMD surveillance based on non-invasive sampling methods and RT-qPCR tests have the potential to enable post outbreak surveillance substantiating FMD freedom to be done more quickly and less expensively than traditional approaches based on serological surveys.