Livestock disease surveillance and biosecurity priorities in the Pacific Island countries and territories

Brioudes, Aurélie (2016) Livestock disease surveillance and biosecurity priorities in the Pacific Island countries and territories. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

PDF (Thesis)
Download (4MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Livestock play an important role in the social, cultural and economic environment of the Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs). Currently, the development of the livestock sector in the Pacific region is constrained by a number of factors, including animal health status requirements. So far, the Pacific Islands region has a favourable animal health situation but it is a challenge to maintain a disease free environment in an area composed of 25,000 islands dispersed over 180 million square kilometres. While most of the PICTs face a critical shortage of veterinarians and have limited financial resources, this study aims to examine ways by which animal disease surveillance in the Pacific Islands region could be better targeted to enable more efficient use of scarce resources in the PICTs.

Within this context, a literature review was conducted to synthesize data across studies from peer-reviewed and grey literature on the animal diseases in the Pacific Islands region. Based on the outputs of the meta-analysis, a multicriteria prioritization process was then developed to identify animal diseases perceived to be of importance by decision makers within selected PICTs, at the regional and national levels. Pig and poultry husbandry being of primary importance for the Pacific communities, farmer practices and the movements of pigs and poultry were then examined in four selected PICTs (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), using questionnaire survey and social network analysis tools in view of better predicting how diseases could potentially spread in the region. Finally, a combined pig and poultry market chain and risk pathway analysis was conducted in these four PICTs to identify the highest risk areas (risk hotspots) and risky practices and behaviours (risk factors) of animal disease introduction and/or spread, using highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) as model diseases because of their potential importance in the region.

From the 158 eligible references retrieved from the literature review, only 77 (48.7%) were published since 1992 and analysed in more details. A total of 101 diseases and pathogens were reported on for domestic animals in the Oceania region and in 17 PICTs in particular. Retrieved literature on animal diseases in PICTs was scarce and no longer up to date. There is a need to improve the published knowledge on the current animal disease status in the region.

The list of the top-twenty ranked diseases for the Pacific Islands region resulting from the structured prioritization process shows a mix of endemic zoonotic diseases (such as leptospirosis ranked first; brucellosis third; tuberculosis sixth and endoparasites and ectoparasites respectively eleventh and thirteenth) with exotic diseases (such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) ranked second, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) fifth and rabies ninth). There were different disease ranking lists for each of the four targeted PICTs, confirming different strategies of disease prevention and control may be required for each country, rather than a regional approach. Interviewed animal health and production workers were unfamiliar with most of the prioritized diseases and a majority acknowledged that they would not be able to recognise clinical signs if outbreaks were to occur in their area.

Results from the survey and the social network analysis indicate that a large proportion of farmers (44.6 to 61.3%) do not implement any preventive or control measures, yet, the majority (80.6 to 88%) did not experience any animal diseases over the past twelve-months. Most farmers never ask for veterinary care, never engage in laboratory testing and do not report when their animals show clinical signs. Many pig farmers (31.8%) trade within their communities only and sell directly to consumers (24.5%) which reduces the risk of diseases spreading. Our results show an association between farmers that report having had disease on their farm in the past twelve-months and movements of animals on and off their farms. The capitals of the studied provinces in PNG, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands were identified as the most connected nodes of both pig and poultry trade while Fiji networks appeared much less connected. Farmer practices increased the risk of disease spread but this was currently limited by trading practices.

The conduct of the combined market chain analysis with risk pathways was a practical way of communicating risk to animal health officials and improving biosecurity. It provided a participatory approach that helps officials to better understand the trading regulations in place in their country and to better evaluate their role as part of the control system. Common risk patterns were found to play a role in all four PICTs. Legal trade pathways rely essentially on preventive measures put in place in the exporting countries while no or only limited control measures are undertaken by the importing countries. Legal importations of animals and animal products are done mainly by commercial farms which then supply local smallholders. Targeting surveillance on these potential hotspots would limit the risk of introduction and spread of animal diseases within the pig and poultry industry. Swill feeding is identified as a common practice in the region that represents a non-negligible risk factor for dissemination of pathogens to susceptible species. Illegal introduction of animals and animal products is suspected, but appears restricted to small holder farms in remote areas, limiting the risk of spread of transboundary animal diseases along the market chain. Introduction of undeclared goods hidden within a legal trade activity was identified as a major risk pathway. Activities such as awareness campaigns for pig and poultry farmers regarding disease reporting, biosecurity measures or danger of swill feeding and training of biosecurity officers in basic animal health and import-associated risks are recommended to prevent and limit the spread of pathogens within the PICTs.

We put forward the methodology used for this study as a novel approach for more rational and transparent allocations of resources for enhancing food security and for better targeted approach to animal disease prevention and control. The results of this study are expected to lead to a more rational use of skilled manpower and increase the sensitivity of disease identification within the PICTs.

Item ID: 47443
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: animal disease, animal health, biosecurity, domestic animal, food animal biosecurity, foot-and-mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza, legal/illegal trade, livestock diseases, livestock health, livestock movement, livestock, Pacific Island countries and territories, Pacific Island countries, Pacific Islands, pig market chain, pig, poultry market chain, poultry, prioritization, risk hotspot, targeted surveillance, tropical diseases
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Chapter 2: Brioudes, Aurélie, Warner, Jeffrey, Hedlefs, Robert, and Gummow, Bruce (2014) A review of domestic animal diseases within the Pacific Islands region. Acta Tropica, 132. pp. 23-38.

Chapter 3: Brioudes, Aurélie, Warner, Jeffrey, Hedlefs, Robert, and Gummow, Bruce (2015) Diseases of livestock in the Pacific Islands region: setting priorities for food animal biosecurity. Acta Tropica, 143. pp. 66-76.

Chapter 4: Brioudes, A., and Gummow, B. (2017) Understanding pig and poultry trade networks and farming practices within the Pacific Islands as a basis for surveillance. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 64 (1). pp. 284-299.

Chapter 5: Brioudes, Aurélie, and Gummow, Bruce (2016) Field application of a combined pig and poultry market chain and risk pathway analysis within the Pacific Islands region as a tool for targeted disease surveillance and biosecurity. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 129. pp. 13-22.

Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2017 02:55
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070704 Veterinary Epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 692
Last 12 Months: 17
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page