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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Bayesian analysis of animal movements related to factors at herd and between herd levels: implications for disease spread modeling.

Lindström, Tom; Sisson, Scott A.; Sternberg Lewerin, Susanna; Wennergren, Uno; Sternberg Lewerin, Susanna


A method to assess the influence of between herd distances, production types and herd sizes on patterns of between herd contacts is presented. It was applied on pig movement data from a central database of the Swedish Board of Agriculture. To determine the influence of these factors on the contact between holdings we used a Bayesian model and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods to estimate the posterior distribution of model parameters. The analysis showed that the contact pattern via animal movements is highly heterogeneous and influenced by all three factors, production type, herd size, and distance between holdings. Most production types showed a positive relationship between maximum capacity and the probability of both incoming and outgoing movements. In agreement with previous studies, holdings also differed in both the number of contacts as well as with what holding types contact occurred with. Also, the scale and shape of distance dependence in contact probability was shown to differ depending on the production types of holdings. To demonstrate how the methodology may be used for risk assessment, disease transmissions via animal movements were simulated with the model used for analysis of contacts, and parameterized by the analyzed posterior distribution. A Generalized Linear Model showed that herds with production types Sow pool center. Multiplying herd and Nucleus herd have higher risk of generating a large number of new infections. Multiplying herds are also expected to generate many long distance transmissions, while transmissions generated by Sow pool centers are confined to more local areas. We argue that the methodology presented may be a useful tool for improvement of risk assessment based on data found in central databases. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Markov chain Monte Carlo; Hierarchical Bayesian; Mixture models; Indicator variable; Animal databases; Animal movements; Contact structure

Published in

Preventive Veterinary Medicine
2011, Volume: 98, number: 4, pages: 230-242

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Other Veterinary Science

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