Spatial analysis and risk mapping of Fasciola hepatica infection in dairy herds in Ireland

  • Nikolaos Selemetas UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
  • Els Ducheyne Avia-GIS, Zoersel, Belgium.
  • Paul Phelan Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Grange, Dunsany Co, Meath, Ireland.
  • Padraig O’Kiely Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Grange, Dunsany Co, Meath, Ireland.
  • Guy Hendrickx Avia-GIS, Zoersel, Belgium.
  • Theo de Waal | theo.dewaal@ucd.ie UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

Abstract

Fasciolosis is generally a subclinical infection of dairy cows and can cause marked economic losses. This study investigated the prevalence and spatial distribution of fasciolosis in dairy cow herds in Ireland using an in-house antibodydetection enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay applied to bulk tank milk (BTM) samples collected during the autumn of 2012. A total of 5,116 BTM samples were collected from 4,602 different herds, with 514 farmers submitting BTM samples in two consecutive months. Analysis of the BTM samples showed that 82% (n = 3,764) of the dairy herds had been exposed to Fasciola hepatica. A total of 108 variables, including averaged climatic data for the period 1981-2010 and contemporary meteorological data for the year 2012, such as soil, subsoil, land cover and habitat maps, were investigated for a possible role as predictor of fasciolosis. Using mainly climatic variables as the major predictors, a model of the predicted risk of fasciolosis was created by Random Forest modelling that had 95% sensitivity and 100% specificity. The most important predictors in descending order of importance were: average of annual total number of rain-days for the period 1981-2010, total rainfall during September, winter and autumn of 2012, average of annual total number of wet-days for the period 1981- 2010 and annual mean temperature of 2012. The findings of this study confirm the high prevalence of fasciolosis in Irish dairy herds and suggest that specific weather and environmental risk factors support a robust and precise distribution model.

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Published
2015-03-19
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Original Articles
Keywords:
fasciolosis, Fasciola hepatica, spatial analysis, Random Forest, modelling, Ireland
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How to Cite
Selemetas, N., Ducheyne, E., Phelan, P., O’Kiely, P., Hendrickx, G., & de Waal, T. (2015). Spatial analysis and risk mapping of Fasciola hepatica infection in dairy herds in Ireland. Geospatial Health, 9(2), 281-291. https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2015.350

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