Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 39, Number 3, May-June 2008
Number of page(s) 15
Published online 29 February 2008
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2008) 39:37
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2008) 39:37
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2008014

A comparison of the active surveillance of scrapie in the European Union

Victor Javier Del Rio Vilas1, Dankmar Böhning2 and Ronny Kuhnert3

1  Veterinary Laboratories Agency, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 3NB, UK
2  Applied Statistics, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Reading, Harry Pitt Building, Earley Gate, Whiteknights road, Reading, RG6 6FN, UK
3  Department of Epidemiology and Health, Robert Koch-Institute, Seestra e 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany

(Received 26 September 2007; accepted 28 February 2008; published online 29 February 2008)

Abstract - The abattoir and the fallen stock surveys constitute the active surveillance component aimed at improving the detection of scrapie across the European Union. Previous studies have suggested the occurrence of significant differences in the operation of the surveys across the EU. In the present study we assessed the standardisation of the surveys throughout time across the EU and identified clusters of countries with similar underlying characteristics allowing comparisons between them. In the absence of sufficient covariate information to explain the observed variability across countries, we modelled the unobserved heterogeneity by means of non-parametric distributions on the risk ratios of the fallen stock over the abattoir survey. More specifically, we used the profile likelihood method on 2003, 2004 and 2005 active surveillance data for 18 European countries on classical scrapie, and on 2004 and 2005 data for atypical scrapie separately. We extended our analyses to include the limited covariate information available, more specifically, the proportion of the adult sheep population sampled by the fallen stock survey every year. Our results show that the between-country heterogeneity dropped in 2004 and 2005 relative to that of 2003 for classical scrapie. As a consequence, the number of clusters in the last two years was also reduced indicating the gradual standardisation of the surveillance efforts across the EU. The crude analyses of the atypical data grouped all the countries in one cluster and showed non-significant gain in the detection of this type of scrapie by any of the two sources. The proportion of the population sampled by the fallen stock appeared significantly associated with our risk ratio for both types of scrapie, although in opposite directions: negative for classical and positive for atypical. The initial justification for the fallen stock, targeting a high-risk population to increase the likelihood of case finding, appears compromised for both types of scrapie in some countries.

Key words: scrapie / surveillance / meta-analysis / evaluation

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008