Assessment of biosecurity practices and network analysis of cattle and buffalo movements to understand the risk of brucellosis spread in Nepal

Brucellosis is disease that is endemic in cattle, buffalo, yaks, goats and sheep in Nepal, which serve as reservoirs for infection for people. Controlling brucellosis in animals will reduce the direct impact of the disease on human health and the indirect impact on human livelihoods through its limiting effect on animal productivity.

 

Modelling of brucellosis spread and the effect of different control measures is a very useful tool in the formulation of national policy for brucellosis control. Model performance can be improved significantly by more accurately representing disease spread associated with the magnitude and frequency of cattle and buffalo movements between farms through use of communal grazing areas and/or trading practices.

 

A collaborative investigation project is being conducted on brucellosis in Nepal by Nepalese doctors and veterinarians undertaking in a 2-year One Health Epidemiology Fellowship as part of the ‘Integrating Education and Action for One Health’ program funded by the European Union and implemented by Massey University.

 

The project uses social network analysis to characterise cattle and buffalo movement patterns, focusing on two areas: one with a high proportion of commercial dairy farms and another with a high proportion of cattle and buffalo smallholders.

 

The information generated through this project will be used to refine the disease-spread parameters in a spatially referenced simulation model of brucellosis in Nepal.  Additional information will be collected on biosecurity practices implemented by farmers and traders, which together with the network patterns will contribute to understanding the opportunities for spread of other infectious diseases in addition to brucellosis. Information will also be collected to understand behavioural practices of people on farms that may increase their risk of becoming infected with brucellosis.

 

The Fellowship participants are from the human health, animal health, and wildlife sectors and are studying together in a Master’s degree program in One Health epidemiology and biosecurity. Through studies such as this they are applying their knowledge and collaborating to reduce the risks of endemic and emerging epidemic diseases transmitted from animals and wildlife to people in their country.

 

The ‘Integrating Education and Action for One Health’ program uses a One Health approach to strengthen capability and promote collaborative relationships between the human, animal and wildlife health sectors in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. This is key to managing endemic and emerging epidemic and pandemic disease threats.

 

The ‘Integrating Education and Action for One Health’ program is funded by the European Union and implemented by Massey University. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Massey University.