Development of STOC-FREE DATA

The objectives of this work package are

1.      To develop a generic data collection framework named STOC-FREE DATA, guided by the methodology developed in WP1, and

2.      To use this framework to provide a thorough description of the BVDV control/eradication programmes (CPs) conducted in defined EU MS and to, subsequently, collect specific quantitative information about the CPs.

WP2: Highlights of year 1

In the first year of the project, the PhD student developed an approach to describe non-EU regulated control programmes implemented in EU member states. The BVDV control programme currently in place in the Netherlands was used as an example in the development of the approach. The information about BVDV control in the Netherlands was gathered using an existing tool for harmonized description of surveillance programmes (the RISKSUR tool, This tool was initially made for building and improving surveillance systems. As it did not meet all the needs for the STOC free project, the tool was expanded to enable it to gather information related to surveillance but also to the control of the disease. The improved version was subsequently tested for the Irish BVDV programme. By filling in the tool, the first aspects of control programmes that influence the confidence of freedom from infection were identified. The tool was discussed during the first annual meeting. In agreement with WP1 and the other consortium partners, it was decided to focus on risk factors for introduction of BVDV infection and delayed detection as a first step in the evaluation of confidence of freedom in-between test moments. At the end of November 2017, the final version of the adapted RISKSUR tool was distributed to all partners requesting to fill-in all country specific information. The information was returned in January 2018. Based on the information that returned a first version of a questionnaire was drafted, which will ultimately evolve into the data-collection tool. The first draft questionnaire was discussed with all partners and feedback to improve the questionnaire was returned to the PhD student. The improved questionnaire will be the first deliverable of WP2 which is due in April 2018. Additionally, the PhD student started to describe and compare the different CPs based on the information that was returned in the RISKSUR tool and started a literature review/ meta-analysis in collaboration with WP1.

WP2: Highlights of year 2

In year 2, the results from the expanded and completed RISKSUR tool were combined and analysed resulting in a thorough qualitative comparison of BVDV CPs in the six member states. The results were delivered (deliverable 2.3) to EFSA.  Additionally, a scientific paper was written in which an approach was proposed to qualitatively compare elements that influence the likelihood, and associated uncertainty, that cattle from a herd categorized as BVDV-free are truly free from infection. This paper is currently under review with the Journal of Dairy Science. As part of the qualitative risk analysis approach, the relevant context and CP characteristics were ranked and discussed between each of the six participating countries. Together with the consortium partners, the first version of the questionnaire that forms the basis for the data collection tool (deliverable 2.1), was transformed in a second version (deliverable 2.2). Ongoing discussions are taking place on the development of this questionnaire tailored to the needs and progress of the statistical model (WP1).

A literature review and meta-analysis was initiated in close collaboration with WP1 to obtain default values for risk factors for BVDV infection to be included in the statistical model. Initially, 6,958 papers were selected and screened for inclusion in the review by title and abstract. Subsequently, a full-text screening was applied to 259 papers and it was decided to eventually include 51 papers in the study. In the third year, a data extraction table will be developed and the essential parameters will be extracted from the selected papers to the table. The quality of the papers will be evaluated and a final selection will be done to identify papers for inclusion in the meta-analysis.

WP2: Highlights of year 3

In year 3, the scientific paper that was written based on the data that was collected in the developed STOC-free data collection tool was accepted for publication in the Journal of Dairy Science. The data collection tool was presented in the SOUND control consortium in which 32 European countries are represented and feedback was received for further generalisation of the tool. Based on the feedback the tool was further adapted to make it applicable throughout Europe and to enable to capture information on CPs of other cattle diseases as well.

In the literature review and meta-analysis, it was decided to include 51 papers for the review part and to include 18 papers for the meta-analysis. Criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis were that quantitative data should be available and that the paper should originate from Europe. Based on the review the most important risk factors for BVDV were identified i.e. introduction of cattle in the herd, herd size, herd type (dairy or beef) and neighbourhood risk. The meta-analysis resulted in default values for the most important risk factors that can be used as input in the model when country specific estimates for the risk factors are unavailable. The results of the literature and meta-analysis were written in a paper which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Dairy Science.

WP2: Highlights of year 4

In year 4, the data collection tool was extended to two other cattle diseases i.e. infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and Johne's disease together with WG2 from SOUND control. SOUND control is a COST action with more than 100 participants from 33 countries that focus on stimulating initiatives to move towards output-based surveillance. WG2 of SOUND control focus on the collection of data. In collaboration with the SOUND control project, the data-collection tool was adapted to make it applicable throughout Europe. Subsequently the tool was pilot tested by a Western (Netherlands) and Eastern European country (Albania) and a data quality evaluation module was included. Aspects that were considered important were data sources and accessibility, completeness of data, timeliness of data, and data accuracy. This version of the tool was also made available online through Limesurvey, although at this point only for testing purposes by the STOC free and SOUND control consortia.

A scientific paper was written about the key learnings during the development of a generic data collection tool to support assessment of freedom of infection in cattle herds and was accepted for publication in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. A second paper was written by the SOUND control consortium in collaboration with the STOC free group in which the results from an European evaluation of data availability and data quality was pilot tested by making use of the tool (Rapaliute et al., 2021).

Deliverables of the second year can be found here