A study of Brucellosis in cattle within the Pacific Island Community as a model for disease surveillance and reporting

Tukana, Andrew S. (2018) A study of Brucellosis in cattle within the Pacific Island Community as a model for disease surveillance and reporting. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Brucellosis is an important zoonosis in the Pacific Island community, however most countries in the Pacific island community may not consider the disease important. This is due to the fact that there has been very little literature published on the disease over the last 20 years thus it has been difficult to gauge the impact of the disease. There also are national priorities ahead of the disease Brucellosis, e.g. HIV and Tuberculosis, etc.

Brucella abortus in particular has significance in the Pacific island community as it has recently re-emergence in Fiji and it has the potential to impact the cattle sectors in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands who all depend on cattle for food security and their livelihoods.

The Fiji re-emergence of B. abortus in cattle in 2009 was most likely caused by the lapse in monitoring with poor surveillance and reporting until the disease was well established in the Tailevu province of Fiji. Thus this study sought to examine ways to improve disease surveillance and reporting using Brucellosis in cattle as a model to reduce the impacts of zoonoses and protect the livelihoods of livestock farmers within the Pacific Island Community.

Five approaches (objectives) were used in this study to improve disease surveillance and reporting using Brucella abortus as the disease of interest and cattle as the animal unit studied and the countries covered were Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. The five objectives were; (i) produce a better knowledge on the status of bovine brucellosis in the Pacific Island Community, using the current outbreak of the disease in Fiji as a model. (ii) Produce a better knowledge of which risk factors were associated with the outbreak of bovine brucellosis in Fiji and how some of those risks factors could be related to other Pacific Island Community countries, i.e. in terms of similarities of cultures and farming practices. (iii) Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) for the current disease reporting structures in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and how they impacted their surveillance system components. (iv) Improve disease surveillance through capacity building training, survey development and apply this training through a brucellosis freedom survey in PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and a prevalence survey in Fiji. (v) Examine the sensitivities of the surveillance system components in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to detect B. abortus in cattle.

The research first sought to gain a better understanding of the status of Brucellosis in the Pacific Island Community and the region; the research also examined retrospective data to calculate the prevalence of the disease to determine its spread in Fiji since Fiji had an outbreak of the disease at that time. The methods used were a systematic literature review and a prevalence study using retrospective data from Fiji (Chapter 2). The research sought to further enhance the understanding of the disease by examining which risk factors could have been associated with the outbreak of B. abortus on Dairy farms in the Tailevu province of Fiji. The methods used were a cross-sectional survey on the risk factors associated with the farms in the locality where B. abortus re-emerged in 2009 in Fiji (Chapter 3).

After completing the research studies in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 it was evident that there was a poor understanding of the disease and disease surveillance capacities were weak, so the research documented and examined the reporting structures to identify gaps and areas that could be improved as well as on how policy support was impacting disease surveillance in the Pacific Island Community (Chapter 4). The next step was to build surveillance capacities for Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands through the research activities as this was lacking, i.e. through the development of surveys to detect B. abortus in selected regions as funding was limited (Chapter 5).

The final step was to improve disease surveillance and reporting by examining the surveillance system components (SSCs) of Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to analyse the sensitivity of the systems to detect B. abortus. This aspect of the work focussed on the documentation of the surveillance system components (SSCs) for Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands enabling the analysis and identification of where weaknesses were in the reporting system, thus allowing for recommendations for improvements to be made (Chapter 6).

The key findings from the research were as follows; Chapter 2, Bovine brucellosis has been present in PICTs for many years, yet it may not be considered important in many Pacific Islands and Territories. There has been very little literature published on B. abortus in the Pacific Island region over the last 20 years making it difficult to gauge the impact of the disease (Conclusion 1). The re-emergence of B. abortus in Fiji was most likely due to the lack of monitoring for the disease while disease surveillance is limited and poor in PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands (Conclusion 2). Chapter 3, the risks of brucellosis transmission within cattle on dairy farms in Fiji are high (Conclusion 3) since the existence of other animal species on the dairy farms in Fiji may harbour the B. abortus organism. Reporting of diseases to the animal health authorities was poor with the farmers (Conclusion 4). The risk of human infection was high with the farmers in Fiji (Conclusion 5). Farms having a history of reactor cattle to brucellosis and or tuberculosis were 30 times (OR= 30) more likely of being infected with the B. abortus organism (Conclusion 6). Farms that practised sharing of water sources for cattle within and with cattle from outside farms were 39 times (OR= 39) more likely of being infected with the B. abortus organism (Conclusion 7). Chapter 4, Surveillance programs and reporting structures are impeded by the lack of policy to support them (Conclusion 8). Reporting structures are affected by the vacant positions and shortage of veterinarians (Conclusion 9). Reporting structures are too long, hierarchical in nature and have multiple reporting branches which are not functioning well (Conclusion 10). Chapter 5, Lack of funds impacted surveillance programs in PICTs (Conclusion 11). Lack of technical expertise reduced disease surveillance capacities in PICTs (Conclusion 12). Outdated data on cattle population impeded the development of surveys for disease surveillance in PICTs (Conclusion 13). PNG, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands all tested negative to B. abortus based on the survey sample sizes for selected regions (Conclusion 14). Chapter 6, the proportions of reports being made for Brucellosis and other diseases are low (Conclusion 15). The proportions of disease investigations being carried out by the animal health authorities are low (Conclusion 16). The survivability of samples collected, processed and sent to reference laboratories is low (Conclusion 17). Data for certain nodes in the country SSC's were limited affecting the countries sensitivity for detecting B. abortus (Conclusion 18).

Disease surveillance and reporting in the Pacific Island community is limited and poor thus there needs to be training to build capacity to improve these. There also needs to be policy development to support disease surveillance and reporting programs in the Pacific Island community; however this is difficult as funds are limited and national governments often have other priorities ahead of disease surveillance. Thus there is an important need to improve collaboration between, donors such as FAO and ACIAR as well as academic institutions and national governments to develop projects to improve disease surveillance in the Pacific Island community. There is also a need to improve disease surveillance and reporting using a holistic and regional approach which this research has started doing in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. This allows the detailed examination of the surveillance system components (SSC's) thus identifying components that are weak and allowing for their improvement, which will increase the ability of the countries to detect diseases. A multi-sectoral approach is also needed to improve disease surveillance and reporting in the Pacific Island community, i.e. since most animal diseases are zoonotic, there is a need for the human and animal sectors to work together to develop programs to improve surveillance and reporting, e.g. using a "One Health Approach".

Item ID: 56644
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: animal disease surveillance, animal disease, B. abortus, Brucellosis, cattle farming, cattle, demographics, Fiji, national policies, Pacific Island Countries, Pacific Islands, prevalence, public health, re-emergence, reporting, review, risk factors, training, tropics
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Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Andrew S. Tukana
Additional Information:

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

Chapter 2: Tukana, Andrew, Warner, Jeffrey, Hedlefs, Robert, and Gummow, Bruce (2015) The history of brucellosis in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories and its re-emergence. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 122 (1-2). pp. 14-20.

Chapter 3: Tukana, Andrew, and Gummow, B. (2017) Dairy farm demographics and management factors that played a role in the re-emergence of brucellosis on dairy cattle farms in Fiji. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 49 (6). pp. 1171-1178.

Chapter 4: Tukana, Andrew, Hedlefs, Robert, and Gummow, Bruce (2018) The impact of national policies on animal disease reporting within selected Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). Tropical Animal Health and Production, 50 (7). pp. 1547-1558.

Chapter 5: Tukana, Andrew, Hedlefs, Robert, and Gummow, Bruce (2016) Brucella abortus surveillance of cattle in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and a case for active disease surveillance as a training tool. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 48 (7). pp. 1471-1481.

Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2018 23:45
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%
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