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Wildlife Reservoirs of Livestock Disease: Planning Responses to Suspected Outbreaks of Classical Swine Fever in Feral Swine

  • Author(s): Ward, Alastair I.
  • Massei, Giovanna
  • Cowan, David P.
  • et al.
Abstract

Food security and international trade require healthy livestock. A wildlife reservoir can compromise control of livestock disease. When disease is suspected in wildlife, initial questions include whether their behaviour, ecology and proximity to livestock pose a significant risk. Then, what options are there for mitigating risk? If we respond, how should we measure success? Following action, lessons must be learned so that we are more effective during the next disease outbreak. At least 4 discrete populations of feral swine currently exist in England at relatively low densities. In the event of a suspected classical swine fever (CSF) outbreak, investigation zones and control strategies may need to be initiated, and so new models need to be created to fit these English populations. Here, we present an approach to using data collected during scientific research projects and wildlife management exercises to aid decisions on how to resource a program of disease detection and control if CSF was suspected to have broken out in feral swine populations in England. Culling efficiency was estimated through trapping and shooting records. Results were used to create predictive models which determined resources and costs required to carry out an efficient cull within various possible scenarios. Trapping over 26 months at one 427-ha site resulted in the capture of 130 swine at an average of 0.21 swine per trap-night and US$477 per animal. Shooting by two government hunters over 12 months at another site resulted in the culling of 56 swine, equating to 1 swine shot for every 18 hrs 40 mins; total effort was 41 hrs 44 mins with total cost around US$75,628 (US$1,350) per animal. Using simulation models, we estimated the costs of delivering a cull via a combined approach of trapping and shooting to detect CSF at 1% and 5% seroprevelance. Costs ranged widely, depending on scenario, with minimum costs of US$51,404 and $69,029, and maximum costs of US$231,545 and $203,109, respectively. Results suggest that at present it is feasible to deliver a sampling strategy that could detect and potentially resolve the occurrence of CSF in feral swine in England.

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