ResearchPad - livestock https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A model for the assessment of bluetongue virus serotype 1 persistence in Spain]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11225 Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an arbovirus of ruminants that has been circulating in Europe continuously for more than two decades and has become endemic in some countries such as Spain. Spain is ideal for BTV epidemiological studies since BTV outbreaks from different sources and serotypes have occurred continuously there since 2000; BTV-1 has been reported there from 2007 to 2017. Here we develop a model for BTV-1 endemic scenario to estimate the risk of an area becoming endemic, as well as to identify the most influential factors for BTV-1 persistence. We created abundance maps at 1-km2 spatial resolution for the main vectors in Spain, Culicoides imicola and Obsoletus and Pulicaris complexes, by combining environmental satellite data with occurrence models and a random forest machine learning algorithm. The endemic model included vector abundance and host-related variables (farm density). The three most relevant variables in the endemic model were the abundance of C. imicola and Obsoletus complex and density of goat farms (AUC 0.86); this model suggests that BTV-1 is more likely to become endemic in central and southwestern regions of Spain. It only requires host- and vector-related variables to identify areas at greater risk of becoming endemic for bluetongue. Our results highlight the importance of suitable Culicoides spp. prediction maps for bluetongue epidemiological studies and decision-making about control and eradication measures.

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<![CDATA[Breeding practices and trait preferences of smallholder farmers for indigenous sheep in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia: Inputs to design a breeding program]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7865 The aim of this study was to identify breeding practices and trait preferences for indigenous sheep in three districts (Estie, Farta and Lay Gayient) located in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia. Questionnaire survey and choice experiment methods were used to collect data from 370 smallholder farmers. Respondents were selected randomly among smallholder farmers who own sheep in the aforementioned districts. A generalized multinomial logit model was employed to examine preferences for sheep attributes, while descriptive statistics and index values were computed to describe sheep breeding practices. Having the highest index value of 0.36, income generation was ranked as the primary reason for keeping sheep, followed by meat and manure sources. The average flock size per smallholder farmer was 10.21 sheep. The majority of the smallholder farmers (91%) have the experience of selecting breeding rams and ewes within their own flock using diverse criteria. Given the highest index value of 0.34, body size was ranked as a primary ram and ewe selection criteria, followed by coat color. Furthermore, choice modeling results revealed that tail type, body size, coat color, growth rate, horn and ear size have shown significant influences on smallholder farmers’ preference for breeding rams (P<0.01). The part-worth utility coefficients were positive for all ram attributes except ear size. For breeding ewes, mothering ability, coat color, body size, lambing interval, growth rate, tail type and litter size have shown significant effects on choice preferences of smallholder farmers (P<0.05). Moreover, significant scale heterogeneity was observed among respondents for ewe attributes (P<0.001). Overall, the results implied that sheep breeding objectives suitable for the northwest highlands of the country can be derived from traits such as linear body measurement, weight and survival at different ages, and lambing intervals. However, selection decisions at the smallholder level should not only be based on estimated breeding values of traits included in the breeding objective but instead, incorporate ways to address farmers’ preference for qualitative traits.

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<![CDATA[Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Antibodies among Livestock on Corsica, France, 2014–2016]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N34a68705-8275-45d4-8d88-f472a5e7282e

We conducted a serologic survey for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus antibodies in livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats; N = 3,890) on Corsica (island of France) during 2014–2016. Overall, 9.1% of animals were seropositive, suggesting this virus circulates on Corsica. However, virus identification is needed to confirm these results.

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<![CDATA[Risk factors associated to a high Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex seroprevalence in wild boar (Sus scrofa) from a low bovine tuberculosis prevalence area]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nfbbd03ef-7cb8-4d82-b605-16cf8ee0d77e

Animal tuberculosis is a worldwide zoonotic disease caused principally by Mycobacterium bovis, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC). In southern Iberian Peninsula, wild reservoirs such as the wild boar, among other factors, have prevented the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. However, most of the studies have been focused on south-central Spain, where the prevalence of tuberculosis is high among wild ungulates and cattle herds. In northern regions, where wild boar density and bovine tuberculosis prevalence are lower, fewer studies have been carried out and the role of this species is still under debate. The aim of this study was to describe the temporal and spatial distribution of antibodies against MTC in wild boar from the Basque Country, northern Spain. Sera from 1902 animals were collected between 2010 and 2016. The seroprevalence was determined with an in house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the search of risk factors was assessed by Generalized Linear Models. Overall, 17% of wild boars (326/1902; 95%CI, [15.5%–18.9%]) showed antibodies against MTC. Risk factors associated with seropositivity were the year and location of sampling, the number of MTC positive cattle, the distance to positive farms and the percentage of shrub cover. Younger age classes were associated with increased antibody titres among seropositive individuals. The seroprevalence detected was higher than those previously reported in neighbouring regions. Hence, further studies are needed to better understand the role of wild boar in the epidemiology of tuberculosis in low tuberculosis prevalence areas and consequently, its relevance when developing control strategies.

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<![CDATA[Perceived socio-economic impacts of the marbled crayfish invasion in Madagascar]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7a6c5db8-4016-4d26-87a6-87422e70e8c1

The negative environmental and economic impacts of many invasive species are well known. However, given the increased homogenization of global biota, and the difficulty of eradicating species once established, a balanced approach to considering the impacts of invasive species is needed. The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) is a parthenogenetic freshwater crayfish that was first observed in Madagascar around 2005 and has spread rapidly. We present the results of a socio-economic survey (n = 385) in three regions of Madagascar that vary in terms of when the marbled crayfish first arrived. Respondents generally considered marbled crayfish to have a negative impact on rice agriculture and fishing, however the animals were seen as making a positive contribution to household economy and food security. Regression modeling showed that respondents in regions with longer experience of marbled crayfish have more positive perceptions. Unsurprisingly, considering the perception that crayfish negatively impact rice agriculture, those not involved in crayfish harvesting and trading had more negative views towards the crayfish than those involved in crayfish-related activities. Food preference ranking and market surveys revealed the acceptance of marbled crayfish as a cheap source of animal protein; a clear positive in a country with widespread malnutrition. While data on biodiversity impacts of the marbled crayfish invasion in Madagascar are still completely lacking, this study provides insight into the socio-economic impacts of the dramatic spread of this unique invasive species. Biby kely tsy fantam-piaviana, mahavelona fianakaviana” (a small animal coming from who knows where which supports the needs of the family). Government worker Analamanga, Madagascar.

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<![CDATA[Quantitative dynamics of Salmonella and E. coli in feces of feedlot cattle treated with ceftiofur and chlortetracycline]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nd45d35d0-8623-4716-b387-5e4fac70c4ad

Antibiotic use in beef cattle is a risk factor for the expansion of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella populations. However, actual changes in the quantity of Salmonella in cattle feces following antibiotic use have not been investigated. Previously, we observed an overall reduction in Salmonella prevalence in cattle feces associated with both ceftiofur crystalline-free acid (CCFA) and chlortetracycline (CTC) use; however, during the same time frame the prevalence of multidrug-resistant Salmonella increased. The purpose of this analysis was to quantify the dynamics of Salmonella using colony counting (via a spiral-plating method) and hydrolysis probe-based qPCR (TaqMan® qPCR). Additionally, we quantified antibiotic-resistant Salmonella by plating to agar containing antibiotics at Clinical & Laboratory Standards Institute breakpoint concentrations. Cattle were randomly assigned to 4 treatment groups across 16 pens in 2 replicates consisting of 88 cattle each. Fecal samples from Days 0, 4, 8, 14, 20, and 26 were subjected to quantification assays. Duplicate qPCR assays targeting the Salmonella invA gene were performed on total community DNA for 1,040 samples. Diluted fecal samples were spiral plated on plain Brilliant Green Agar (BGA) and BGA with ceftriaxone (4 μg/ml) or tetracycline (16 μg/ml). For comparison purposes, indicator non-type-specific (NTS) E. coli were also quantified by direct spiral plating. Quantity of NTS E. coli and Salmonella significantly decreased immediately following CCFA treatment. CTC treatment further decreased the quantity of Salmonella but not NTS E. coli. Effects of antibiotics on the imputed log10 quantity of Salmonella were analyzed via a multi-level mixed linear regression model. The invA gene copies decreased with CCFA treatment by approximately 2 log10 gene copies/g feces and remained low following additional CTC treatment. The quantities of tetracycline or ceftriaxone-resistant Salmonella were approximately 4 log10 CFU/g feces; however, most of the samples were under the quantification limit. The results of this study demonstrate that antibiotic use decreases the overall quantity of Salmonella in cattle feces in the short term; however, the overall quantities of antimicrobial-resistant NTS E. coli and Salmonella tend to remain at a constant level throughout.

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<![CDATA[Individual-based network model for Rift Valley fever in Kabale District, Uganda]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823c9d5eed0c484638ffb

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a zoonotic disease, that causes significant morbidity and mortality among ungulate livestock and humans in endemic regions. In East Africa, the causative agent of the disease is Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) which is primarily transmitted by multiple mosquito species in Aedes and Mansonia genera during both epizootic and enzootic periods in a complex transmission cycle largely driven by environmental and climatic factors. However, recent RVFV activity in Uganda demonstrated the capability of the virus to spread into new regions through livestock movements, and underscored the need to develop effective mitigation strategies to reduce transmission and prevent spread among cattle populations. We simulated RVFV transmission among cows in 22 different locations of the Kabale District in Uganda using real world livestock data in a network-based model. This model considered livestock as a spatially explicit factor in different locations subjected to specific vector and environmental factors, and was configured to investigate and quantitatively evaluate the relative impacts of mosquito control, livestock movement, and diversity in cattle populations on the spread of the RVF epizootic. We concluded that cattle movement should be restricted for periods of high mosquito abundance to control epizootic spreading among locations during an RVF outbreak. Importantly, simulation results also showed that cattle populations with heterogeneous genetic diversity as crossbreeds were less susceptible to infection compared to homogenous cattle populations.

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<![CDATA[Valuing and mapping cork and carbon across land use scenarios in a Portuguese montado landscape]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accd7d5eed0c484990136

The ecosystem services approach can inform decision-making by accounting for both short- and long-term benefits from different land use options. Here we used the InVEST toolkit to quantify and map key ecosystem services at the largest publicly-owned agro-silvo-pastoral farmstead in Portugal–a site representative for the montado landscape. We analyzed how Provisioning (cork production) and Regulating & Maintenance (carbon storage and sequestration) services would be affected under three land use change scenarios, which were developed in collaboration with the forest manager of the study area: Cattle Intensification, Forest Improvement, and Residential Development. Results show that increasing cattle or residential development would deliver substantially lower levels of services. We find that extensive management, improvements to forest quality, and promotion of traditional livestock grazing would provide the highest levels of assessed ecosystem services, resulting in 13.5% more carbon storage (worth between $0.34-$7.79 million USD depending on carbon price) and 62.7% more cork production (total value of USD $3.5 million) than the current land use. However, a shift in economic incentives to make sustainable cork harvesting and traditional low-density grazing of smaller ruminants like sheep and goats profitable are likely needed to reward traditional land stewardship and help support this iconic Mediterranean landscape in the future.

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<![CDATA[Roads and livelihood activity choices in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c1940d5eed0c484b4d270

Road development is occurring at an unprecedented rate in important conservation areas in tropical countries with limited understanding of how local people will adjust their livelihood activities in response. We use a discrete choice experiment to explore the effect of road development on respondents ex-ante preferences for changes in livelihood activities—crop and livestock production, hunting and trading bushmeat, and business and wage employment—under different incentives—provision of loans, livestock and crop extension services–in scenarios with reduced travel time to nearest district town in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem in Tanzania. We test four hypotheses about the effects of roads with opposing implication for conservation. Hypothesis 1 predicts that increased market access will lead to intensification of crop and livestock production activities (achieved through extension services and loans), and Hypothesis 2 that market access will facilitate the development of non-farm Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) providing new livelihood opportunities (e.g. business income and wage employment)–both reducing environmental pressure. Hypotheis 3 on the other hand predicts that improved market access will lead to extensification and expansion of crop and livestock production activities, while Hypotheis 4 suggests that it will encourage exploitation of environmental goods (here in the form of hunting and trading bushmeat and illegal grazing inside protected areas)–both increasing environmental pressure. We find increasing preferences for more cropland and more cattle as travel time to market is reduced but no preference for increased allocation of household members to hunting and trading bushmeat supporting hypothesis 3 while contradicting hypothesis 4. However, second-order effects might support hypothesis 4 as we find aversion towards decreasing effort invested in hunting and trading bushmeat. Preferences for increased cropland and livestock may furthermore interact to increase land use change and illegal grazing inside protected areas. Crop extension services had a negative modifying effect on preferences for more cropland (supporting hypothesis 1) while livestock extension services had a positive modifying effect on preferences for more cattle (contradicting hypothesis 1). Providing loans had a negative modifying effect on preferences for increasing cropland and number of cattle. Marginal rates of substitution suggest that 950,000 TSH borrowed at a 10% interest rate will reduce preferences for more cropland and cattle by 11.8 and 38.4% respectively. Crop extension services reduce preferences for more cropland by 27% whereas livestock extension services increase preferences for more cattle by 104%. Contradicting Hypothesis 2, we found no preference for increasing the number of households members engaged in business and wage employment in response to reduced travel time. Targeted efforts to increase the educational level as well as entrepreneurship skills in the GSE could promote engagement in the labour market and development of business enterprises diverting focus from traditional activities such as farming and livestock production and hence reducing pressure on the ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[Phylogeographic investigation of 2014 porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) transmission in Taiwan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89779dd5eed0c4847d319c

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) that emerged and spread throughout Taiwan in 2014 triggered significant concern in the country’s swine industry. Acknowledging the absence of a thorough investigation at the geographic level, we used 2014 outbreak sequence information from the Taiwan government’s open access databases plus GenBank records to analyze PEDV dissemination among Taiwanese pig farms. Genetic sequences, locations, and dates of identified PEDV-positive cases were used to assess spatial, temporal, clustering, GIS, and phylogeographic factors affecting PEDV dissemination. Our conclusion is that S gene sequences from 2014 PEDV-positive clinical samples collected in Taiwan were part of the same Genogroup 2 identified in the US in 2013. According to phylogenetic and phylogeographic data, viral strains collected in different areas were generally independent of each other, with certain clusters identified across different communities. Data from GIS and multiple potential infection factors were used to pinpoint cluster dissemination in areas with large numbers of swine farms in southern Taiwan. The data indicate that the 2014 Taiwan PEDV epidemic resulted from the spread of multiple strains, with strong correlations identified with pig farm numbers and sizes (measured as animal concentrations), feed mill numbers, and the number of slaughterhouses in a specifically defined geographic area.

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<![CDATA[Small-scale and backyard livestock owners needs assessment in the western United States]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6f14bdd5eed0c48467a78c

The number of small-scale and backyard livestock and poultry owners in urban and peri-urban areas has increased greatly over the last 10 years in the U.S. However, these animal owners may live in areas without access to livestock and/or poultry veterinary care. The purpose of this study was to identify potential veterinary service needs of these animal owners in the western US, assess their use of management and husbandry practices with regards to disease prevention, and assess their attitudes about animal health and food safety. A semi-structured survey was made available to small-scale and backyard livestock and poultry owners in Washington State, California, Colorado and Oregon. The survey instrument included questions about types of animals reared, uses of the animals, veterinary services and information-seeking behaviors of owners, attitudes on animal health and food safety, and management practices. Four hundred thirty-five individuals completed at least some portion of the survey. Most described themselves as living in rural areas (76%). Most (86%) owned chickens, 53% owned small ruminants, and 31% owned cattle. Many individuals owned more than one species and most had fewer than 20 animals of a given species. About 74% of respondents utilized their animals’ products for their own consumption but 48% sold animal products (primarily through internet sales (35%) or farmers’ markets (25%)). Overwhelmingly, respondents gained information about animal health (82%) and animal treatment procedures (71%) from the internet. Respondents reported their veterinarian’s practice type as companion animal (26%) or a mixed animal or food animal predominant (66%). Overall, respondents were very satisfied with the level of care (82%), but 43% had not sought animal health care in last 12 months. However, the veterinarian’s primary practice type and owner’s satisfaction with veterinary care were associated with their location (state), species owned, and urban or peri-urban setting. Livestock species type (cattle, small ruminants and swine), and use (personal or commercial) were associated with implementation of different biosecurity practices. The results of this survey highlight some of the needs of these animal owners for veterinary care and information which are location- and species-specific. Veterinary care for these small-scale and backyard animals is vital to the health and welfare of the animals as well as for identification of zoonoses and assurance of the food safety of animal products.

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<![CDATA[Grouping effects in numerosity perception under prolonged viewing conditions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9b1d5eed0c48452a00f

Humans can estimate numerosities–such as the number sheep in a flock–without deliberate counting. A number of biases have been identified in these estimates, which seem primarily rooted in the spatial organization of objects (grouping, symmetry, etc). Most previous studies on the number sense used static stimuli with extremely brief exposure times. However, outside the laboratory, visual scenes are often dynamic and freely viewed for prolonged durations (e.g., a flock of moving sheep). The purpose of the present study is to examine grouping-induced numerosity biases in stimuli that more closely mimic these conditions. To this end, we designed two experiments with limited-dot-lifetime displays (LDDs), in which each dot is visible for a brief period of time and replaced by a new dot elsewhere after its disappearance. The dynamic nature of LDDs prevents subjects from counting even when they are free-viewing a stimulus under prolonged presentation. Subjects estimated the number of dots in arrays that were presented either as a single group or were segregated into two groups by spatial clustering, dot size, dot color, or dot motion. Grouping by color and motion reduced perceived numerosity compared to viewing them as a single group. Moreover, the grouping effect sizes between these two features were correlated, which suggests that the effects may share a common, feature-invariant mechanism. Finally, we find that dot size and total stimulus area directly affect perceived numerosity, which makes it difficult to draw reliable conclusions about grouping effects induced by spatial clustering and dot size. Our results provide new insights into biases in numerosity estimation and they demonstrate that the use of LDDs is an effective method to study the human number sense under prolonged viewing.

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<![CDATA[Viral infection detection using metagenomics technology in six poultry farms of eastern China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fde1d5eed0c484e5afbf

With rapidly increasing animal pathogen surveillance requirements, new technologies are needed for a comprehensive understanding of the roles of pathogens in the occurrence and development of animal diseases. We applied metagenomic technology to avian virus surveillance to study the main viruses infecting six poultry farms in two provinces in eastern China. Cloacal/throat double swabs were collected from 60 birds at each farm according to a random sampling method. The results showed that the method could simultaneously detect major viruses infecting farms, including avian influenza virus, infectious bronchitis virus, Newcastle disease virus, rotavirus G, duck hepatitis B virus, and avian leukemia virus subgroup J in several farms. The test results were consistent with the results from traditional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or reverse transcription-PCR analyses. Five H9N2 and one H3N8 avian influenza viruses were detected at the farms and were identified as low pathogenic avian influenza viruses according to HA cleavage sites analysis. One detected Newcastle disease virus was classified as Class II genotype I and avirulent type according to F0 cleavage sites analysis. Three avian infectious bronchitis viruses were identified as 4/91, CK/CH/LSC/99I and TC07-2 genotypes by phylogenetic analysis of S1 genes. The viral infection surveillance method using metagenomics technology enables the monitoring of multiple viral infections, which allows the detection of main infectious viruses.

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<![CDATA[Genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex strains isolated from livestock workers and cattle in Nigeria]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe6bd5eed0c484e5ba23

Molecular typing techniques are useful in understanding tuberculosis epidemiology; yet, they have been under-utilised at the human-animal interface in Nigeria. Sixty-four Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) isolates including 42 M. tuberculosis, 13 M. bovis and nine M. africanum obtained from livestock workers (LW, n = 47) and their cattle (n = 17) in three geographical zones of Nigeria were genotyped to identify and evaluate the genetic diversity of the circulating MTBC using spoligotyping. Distribution into clades of M. tuberculosis revealed; 45.3% Uganda I- [SIT46- cattle: 1; LW: 28], 14.1% Latin American Mediterranean- [SIT61, cattle: 1; LW: 8], and 1.6% T- [SIT53—LW: 1]. The M. bovis strains were 6.3% SB0944 [cattle: 4] and 1.6% each of SB0300, SB1026, SB1027 and SB1439 [cattle: 4]. Seventeen MTBC isolates [cattle: 7; LW: 10] yielded 14 new spoligotype patterns including three M. tuberculosis strains (three isolates), five M. bovis strains (five isolates) and six M. africanum strains (nine isolates), two of which belonged to MAF1. Only few families namely, the not previously described Uganda I-, LAM and SB0944 are predominant among the LW and cattle, with other types in lower prevalences. The strain population structure indicates an intriguing diversity and possible zoonotic linkage with consequences for TB control in the country. The need to employ newer molecular techniques such as Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Unit-Variable Number Tandem Repeats and whole genome sequence to decipher circulating MTBC strains in Nigeria is advocated.

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<![CDATA[Strategies to increase adoption of animal vaccines by smallholder farmers with focus on neglected diseases and marginalized populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c65dcb2d5eed0c484dec06c

Background

Most smallholder farmers (SHFs) and marginalized populations (MPs) in Africa, Asia, and Latin America depend on livestock for their livelihoods. However, significant numbers of these animals do not achieve their potential, die due to disease, or transmit zoonotic diseases. Existing vaccines could prevent and control some of these diseases, but frequently the vaccines do not reach SHFs, especially MPs, making it necessary for specific vaccine adoption strategies.

Principal findings

Several strategies that have the potential to increase the adoption of animal vaccines by SHFs and MPs have been identified depending on the type of vaccines involved. The strategies differed depending on whether the vaccines were aimed at diseases that cause economic losses, government-controlled diseases, or neglected diseases. The adoption of vaccines for neglected diseases presents a major challenge, because they are mostly for zoonotic diseases that produce few or no clinical signs in the animals, making it more difficult for the farmers to appreciate the value of the vaccines.

Strategies can be aimed at increasing the availability of quality vaccines, so that they are produced in sufficient quantity, or aimed at increasing access and demand by SHFs and/or MPs. Some of the strategies to increase vaccine adoption might not provide a definite solution but might facilitate vaccine uptake by decreasing barriers. These strategies are varied and include technical considerations, policy components, involvement by the private sector (local and international), and innovation.

Conclusions

Several strategies with the potential to reduce livestock morbidity and mortality, or prevent zoonoses in SHFs communities and MPs through vaccination, require the involvement of donors and international organisations to stimulate and facilitate sustainable adoption. This is especially the case for neglected zoonotic diseases. Support for national and regional vaccine manufacturers is also required, especially for vaccines against diseases of interest only in the developing world and public goods.

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<![CDATA[Balancing selection at a premature stop mutation in the myostatin gene underlies a recessive leg weakness syndrome in pigs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52bfd5eed0c4842bcf6f

Balancing selection provides a plausible explanation for the maintenance of deleterious alleles at moderate frequency in livestock, including lethal recessives exhibiting heterozygous advantage in carriers. In the current study, a leg weakness syndrome causing mortality of piglets in a commercial line showed monogenic recessive inheritance, and a region on chromosome 15 associated with the syndrome was identified by homozygosity mapping. Whole genome resequencing of cases and controls identified a mutation causing a premature stop codon within exon 3 of the porcine Myostatin (MSTN) gene, similar to those causing a double-muscling phenotype observed in several mammalian species. The MSTN mutation was in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in the population at birth, but significantly distorted amongst animals still in the herd at 110 kg, due to an absence of homozygous mutant genotypes. In heterozygous form, the MSTN mutation was associated with a major increase in muscle depth and decrease in fat depth, suggesting that the deleterious allele was maintained at moderate frequency due to heterozygous advantage (allele frequency, q = 0.22). Knockout of the porcine MSTN by gene editing has previously been linked to problems of low piglet survival and lameness. This MSTN mutation is an example of putative balancing selection in livestock, providing a plausible explanation for the lack of disrupting MSTN mutations in pigs despite many generations of selection for lean growth.

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<![CDATA[Knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding rabies in Grenada]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59febfd5eed0c48413538b

Objective

While Grenada attained a zero-human-rabies case status since 1970, the authors conducted the first study to assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices that may contribute to this status as well as to receive feedback on the rabies control program in Grenada.

Methodology

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in July, 2017 with 996 households on the mainland. A questionnaire was administered to collect information on knowledge of rabies and prevention, vaccination practices, perception of institutional responsibilities for rabies control, and evaluation of the anti-rabies program.

Results

Of the 996 households, 617 (62%) had owners of animals that can be infected with rabies and were included in the analysis. Respondents were very aware of rabies as a disease that can infect animals and humans. The rate of participation in the vaccination program was 51.6% for pets and 38.0% for livestock. About 40% of respondents were knowledgeable about the extent of protection from the rabies vaccine. Respondents did not demonstrate exceptionally high levels of knowledge about animals that were likely to be infected with rabies, neither the anti-rabies programs that were conducted in Grenada. The three most frequent recommendations made to improve the rabies-control programs were: increase education programs, control the mongoose population, and expand the vaccination period each year.

Conclusions

Conducting a comprehensive national rabies education program, expanding the vaccination program, and increasing the rate of animal vaccination are important steps that need to be taken to maintain the current zero-human-case status.

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<![CDATA[How many to sample? Statistical guidelines for monitoring animal welfare outcomes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b524fd5eed0c4842bc630

There is increasing scrutiny of the animal welfare impacts of all animal use activities, including agriculture, the keeping of companion animals, racing and entertainment, research and laboratory use, and wildlife management programs. A common objective of animal welfare monitoring is to quantify the frequency of adverse animal events (e.g., injuries or mortalities). The frequency of such events can be used to provide pass/fail grades for animal use activities relative to a defined threshold and to identify areas for improvement through research. A critical question in these situations is how many animals should be sampled? There are, however, few guidelines available for data collection or analysis, and consequently sample sizes can be highly variable. To address this question, we first evaluated the effect of sample size on precision and statistical power in reporting the frequency of adverse animal welfare outcomes. We next used these findings to assess the precision of published animal welfare investigations for a range of contentious animal use activities, including livestock transport, horse racing, and wildlife harvesting and capture. Finally, we evaluated the sample sizes required for comparing observed outcomes with specified standards through hypothesis testing. Our simulations revealed that the sample sizes required for reasonable levels of precision (i.e., proportional distance to the upper confidence interval limit (δ) of ≤ 0.50) are greater than those that have been commonly used for animal welfare assessments (i.e., >300). Larger sample sizes are required for adverse events with low frequency (i.e., <5%). For comparison with a required threshold standard, even larger samples sizes are required. We present guidelines, and an online calculator, for minimum sample sizes for use in future animal welfare assessments of animal management and research programs.

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<![CDATA[Modelling potential habitat for snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Ladakh, India]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59febcd5eed0c484135369

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is an elusive species inhabiting some of the most remote and inaccessible tracts of Central and South Asia. It is difficult to determine its distribution and density pattern, which are crucial for developing conservation strategies. Several techniques for species detection combining camera traps with remote sensing and geographic information systems have been developed to model the habitat of such cryptic and low-density species in challenging terrains. Utilising presence-only data from camera traps and direct observations, alongside six environmental variables (elevation, aspect, ruggedness, distance to water, land cover, and prey habitat suitability), we assessed snow leopard habitat suitability across Ladakh in northern India. This is the first study to model snow leopard distribution both in India and utilising direct observation data. Results suggested that elevation and ruggedness are the two most influential environmental variables for snow leopard habitat suitability, with highly suitable habitat having an elevation range of 2,800 m to 4,600 m and ruggedness of 450 m to 1,800 m. Our habitat suitability map estimated approximately 12% of Ladakh's geographical area (c. 90,000 km2) as highly suitable and 18% as medium suitability. We found that 62.5% of recorded livestock depredation along with over half of all livestock corrals (54%) and homestays (58%) occurred within highly suitable snow leopard habitat. Our habitat suitability model can be used to assist in allocation of conservation resources by targeting construction of livestock corrals to areas of high habitat suitability and promoting ecotourism programs in villages in highly suitable snow leopard habitat.

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<![CDATA[Isolation and characterization of two Acinetobacter species able to degrade 3-methylindole]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d644d5eed0c484031a07

3-Methylindole (3MI) or Skatole is a volatile lipophilic organic compound produced by anoxic metabolism of L-tryptophan and associated with animal farming and industrial processing wastes. Pure cultures of bacteria capable of utilizing 3MI were isolated from chicken manure using enrichment culture techniques. The bacteria were identified as Acinetobacter toweneri NTA1-2A and Acinetobacter guillouiae TAT1-6A, based on 16S rDNA gene amplicon sequence data. The optimal temperature and pH for degradation of 3MI were established using single factor experiments. Strain tolerance was assessed over a range of initial concentrations of 3MI, and the effects of initial concentration on subsequent microbial 3MI degradation were also measured. During the degradation experiment, concentrations of 3MI were quantified by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The strains were capable of degrade initial concentrations of 3MI ranging from 65–200 mg/L. The degradation efficiency was >85% in 6 days for both strains when the initial concentration is less than 200 mg/L. The strains were tested for enzymatic activity using 65 mg/L 3MI. The enzyme extracts of NTA1-2A and TAT1-6A from the 3MI medium degraded 71.46% and 60.71% of 3MI respectively, but no appreciable change in 3MI concentration in the control group was witnessed. Our experiment revealed betaine and choline were identified as 3MI degradation metabolites by both strains while nitroso-pyrrolidine and beta-alaninebetaine formed by NTA1-2A and TAT1-6A strains respectively. The NTA1-2A and TAT1-6A strains removed 84.32% and 81.39% 3MI respectively from chicken manure during fermentation in 8 days and showed a statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) compared with the control group. The optimum temperature and pH were 31°C and 6 respectively, for 3MI degradation by A. toweneri NTA1-2A and A. guillouiae TAT1-6A. We concluded that A. toweneri NTA1-2A and A. guillouiae TAT1-6A are potential strains of interest to degrade 3MI and control odorant in poultry and other livestock industries.

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