This project has four main objectives:
reduce the risk of introduction of FMD and improve early detection of the disease;
enhance disease surveillance systems on Alor Island in NTT, Indonesia;
improve control of CSF on Alor Island;
gain acceptance of new approaches by communicating outcomes to stakeholders.
Indonesia needs an efficient disease surveillance system for the early detection of exotic disease in order to implement an eradication/control program. As well, monitoring the prevalence of endemic (existing) and emerging diseases is a vital part of evaluating the effectiveness of new and established disease control programs.
This project will strengthen the surveillance system for animal diseases in Indonesia, in particular the eastern region of the country. Recent outbreaks of major pandemic livestock diseases in Indonesia have included hyperpathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and classical swine fever (CSF).
CSF has a significant impact on animal productivity and is now widespread in the Eastern Islands. HPAI has lead to the death and destruction of significant numbers of poultry in Indonesia. In conjunction with human infections of H5N1, the impact on the poultry industry has been catastrophic. Risks can be reduced by targeted active surveillance and increased awareness of the disease. The detection and eradication of HPAI requires a surveillance system that is founded on early detection and timely response.
Indonesia has been successful in eradicating foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)regarded by many as the most serious disease threat to livestock in the worldand remaining free since the 1990s. Freedom from FMD is important to Indonesia for productivity reasons and for growth in export of livestock and livestock products. However the increased, predominantly illegal, movement of livestock/products into Indonesia has heightened the probability of an incursion of FMD.
There is tremendous potential within the established animal health framework to develop an efficient, effective surveillance network. Such a system would also be of significant benefit to the Australian livestock industries by providing current information to government authorities on the diseases present in our immediate neighbours. This would assist Australian authorities to direct resources in a cost-effective manner, to minimise the risk of disease incursion into Australia.
ASSESSMENT OF THE RISK OF INTRODUCTION OF FMD IN INDONESIA AND IMPROVEMENT OF EARLY DETECTION
Questionnaires have already been administered by Dr Pebi Suseno to Quarantine officers and members of the Animal Health Division to identify potential routes of introducing FMD into Indonesia. This includes both identification of geographical regions and evaluation of the likelihood of infection from legal and illegal sources of animal and animal product movement. This information together with livestock numbers has been used to identify the 10 provinces with the highest risk of having an introduction of FMD. Five villages from each province will be selected for strategic (targeted) sampling for FMD. Two workshops with Quarantine Officers and members of the DGLS were held in 2006/07 to discuss risks of FMD, the consequences of introduction and to identify deficiencies in knowledge and awareness of the disease by field staff and farmers. A presentation to the annual conference of the Indonesian Veterinary Association was made on the risks of FMD. A deficiency in current material suitable for farmers on the dangers and signs of FMD was identified and existing material will be updated during 2007/08.
SURVEILLANCE PROJECT- ALOR ISLAND
Important background information collected:
To date the Australian research team has made three trips to Alor and Kupang. There was a delay in commencing this component of the project because of workloads by staff in Kupang and Alor. During the last 10 months essential background information has been collected in relation to the role and function of the Department of Agriculture on Alor and the importance of livestock to farmers. It has become evident that although there are strong procedures in place to provide animal health services- the lack of resources, and interestingly farmer perceptions about the importance of livestock health, make providing adequate services difficult. A two-day workshop was organised on CSF and diseases of pigs in Alor and animal health workers were involved in a training session on collection of blood samples from chickens and pigs.
It is apparent that there are difficulties not only associated with the ability of remote villages to effectively contact the Agriculture Department but also with the ability of the Department to respond promptly and provide the necessary resources for a disease problem. There is also reluctance for many farmers to notify the Department of instances of disease and death in their livestock.
There has been a vaccination programme for CSF in place on Alor since 2002. The aim of this program is to vaccinate every pig on Alor yearly, in the hope of achieving eradication in the future. Unfortunately, some farmers continue to refuse the vaccination of their pigs.
Although there is no denying the importance of animals such as pigs in the culture of the people of Alor - it would seem that the farmer’s main concern is the mere existence of the pig regardless of body condition and/or health. The pig functions as an asset and is traded for money to pay for such things as a child’s education. It is also slaughtered for religious ceremonies, special events and parties. An issue highlighted by one of the volunteers from a farmer’s NGO group we visited during one of our visits was that there is no market system in place in Alor. Farmers therefore are not motivated to produce the largest, healthiest pig for market. Animals are thus mainly only kept for private consumption or as a long term asset. Crops on the other hand provide daily returns and are probably the mainstay of the farmer’s income, and as a consequence receive the most time and effort. This could have implications for the effectiveness of syndromic surveillance given that the farmers seem to pay little attention to the health of their animals and spend the majority of their day tending to their gardens and crops.
Thirty seven villages have been selected and demographic data collected. Questionnaires and instructions for the cross-sectional, cohort and socioeconomic studies have been designed. The questionnaire for the socioeconomic study has been pre-trialled and refined and the questionnaire for the cross-sectional study is currently being trialled. It is hoped that the socioeconomic and cross-sectional study will get underway shortly. The logistics associated with the cohort study and vaccine trial is currently being worked on; this aspect of the project will commence subsequent to the onset of the cross-sectional study.
In light of the background information collected, incorporated into the questionnaires, are targeted questions pertaining to identifying reasons for why farmers often fail to contact the Agricultural Department in the evident of disease or death in their livestock, and also why some often object to the routine vaccination of their pigs against CSF. Once this information has been collected it is hoped that we will be able to develop incentives aimed at improving this situation.
A framework for a national surveillance system for foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Indonesia was established at a workshop organised as part of this project and attended by staff from Government, University and Research institutions. Technical guidelines have been drafted for this surveillance. As part of the improved surveillance system a field investigation of a suspect case of FMD was investigated and samples collected and tested by the national FMD laboratory (PUSVETMA). All samples were test-negative and the results highlight the success of having a national integrated surveillance system.
Another important outcome of the work has been in relation to incentives. Villagers were asked what type of incentives would encourage them to report animal diseases and a high percentage stated that more information about diseases was necessary. They also indicated that free vaccinations and free vitamin injections would also encourage them to report to the government officials about diseases. An outcome of this research was the need to explore the decision making processes of villagers. An understanding of how decisions are made about animal disease identification and reporting will be important towards the development of a surveillance program on Alor Island and will form the basis of the upcoming years work.
A pre-trial of the questionnaires for the cross-sectional study, prospective cohort study and vaccination trial for classical swine fever (CSF) was conducted in July 2007. Active surveillance (sampling) for CSF has subsequently commenced. The cross sectional study is complete and in total 690 samples were collected. The cohort study is on-going and to date 529 samples have been collected. A field based vaccination trial of 4 commercially available CSF vaccines has also been instigated and to date 1526 samples have been collected. A valuable component of the cohort and vaccination studies has been collecting data on changes in animal numbers and animal movements over time. Knowledge of movement of animals is essential to understand disease dispersal and to design potential methods of disease control. Questionnaires have been administered to farmers involved in these studies and the results of these will aid in further understanding farmers actions and help in designing effective surveillance systems for remote areas.
The AYAD student, Michael Bragg, was located on Alor Island for 5 months in 2007 and during this time, studied 16 villages across Alor Island. This allowed a better understanding of the importance of livestock in villages on Alor and enabled Michael to successfully complete his Honours degree at the University of Western Sydney with second class honours. This analysis provided valuable insights into the importance of livestock to farmers and the day to day functioning of villages in rural Alor. Although pigs are culturally important to most villagers, it was found that they had little concern for disease in their pigs and were more concerned about their family and crops. Pigs were less important for day to day consumption in comparison to crops, as pigs were mainly eaten at cultural events.
Guidelines for a surveillance program for FMD has been established and incorporated into a contingency plan in the event FMD is detected in Indonesia. A quantitative risk assessment was conducted identifying high risk areas for targeted sampling in Indonesia and the INDOVET PLAN for FMD was updated and results presented to the 29th World Veterinary Congress in Vancouver, Canada in July 2008.
The cohort study for Classical Swine Fever (CSF) in Alor is on-going and is due to be completed in October 2009. Of the 300 pigs initially involved in the study, 103 remain and 954 blood samples have been collected over five sampling periods.
The vaccine trial for CSF is due for completion in September 2009. Of the 300 pigs initially involved and vaccinated with one of four vaccines or a control, 101 remain and 1758 blood samples have been collected from eight sampling periods.
Our research has determined that syndromic surveillance cannot be effectively implemented on Alor given the current situation. For syndromic surveillance to be effective, farmers must first recognise signs of disease and then report this to an animal health authority. Our research identified a multitude of factors associated with farmers failing to report disease including a lack of: awareness of disease signs, incentives to report and access to animal health officials. On Alor farmers spend most of their time tending to their crops, which are located up to five kilometres from the households where livestock are kept. As a result, farmers spend very little time feeding, observing or caring for their pigs, even though they have significant cultural importance. The low priority placed on pigs together with a severe lack of education relating to pig health, husbandry and nutrition, culminates in the farmer’s inability to recognise signs of disease. If farmers do recognise disease it is often difficult for them to access an official to report to, and there is no incentive to do so. Only two villages have an animal health worker (AHW) in permanent residence; farmers in other villages may have to travel a day or more to reach one. Because travel is costly and diverts time from income-earning activities, farmers are unwilling to spend time travelling to report diseases, especially because they receive no perceivable benefit from doing so.
There is no conventional livestock market system in Alor nor is there an abattoir for pigs. Pigs are sold and traded between friends, family and neighbours and consequently the movements of animals go unrecorded and uncontrolled. This combined with the failure of farmers to report livestock diseases, means that disease surveillance currently relies on active monitoring by authorities. However, due to monetary and personnel constraints this system is ineffective and expensive. Consequently, for surveillance to be improved it must be acknowledged that the farmer is an important source of information and an effort must be made to improve their knowledge and reporting levels.
By addressing the key factors affecting disease reporting, the situation may be improved to a point where syndromic surveillance is possible on Alor. However we are of the opinion that syndromic surveillance could work in other regions with more intensive livestock systems. In Alor we identified two main incentives that could be used to encourage farmers to report diseases. Firstly, farmers have a strong desire to improve their knowledge on livestock issues. By offering training to farmers on livestock health, husbandry and nutrition the farmers’ ability to detect and prevent disease/poor performance will be improved and they may be more motivated to report disease. We are conducting research to determine information delivery techniques appropriate for Alor. Secondly, farmers have a strong desire to have healthy pigs. Most farmers interviewed stated that they liked their pigs receiving injections because it made them healthy. Hence, offering timely and effective treatments to sick pigs could also motivate farmers to report disease. However, access to treatments and vets/animal health workers remains an issue. In one village with a permanent AHW all nine farmers interviewed told the AHW when they had a sick pig. In another village, five of seven farmers travelled five kilometres to a neighbouring village to report livestock diseases to the AHW. Providing access to an AHW in every village or cluster of villages could greatly improve disease reporting rates, however this is expensive and alternatives are being investigated.
The improved plan for the surveillance of FMD in Indonesia is of significant benefit to Australia and helps maintain confidence in Indonesia’s status of freedom from FMD. If all of Australia’s immediate northern neighbours (Timor Leste, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) are free from FMD it reduces the risk of disease incursion into the northern region of Australia. Knowledge of the Indonesian situation for CSF, which has been exotic to Australia for over 40 years, is also of benefit in developing appropriate surveillance measures in the northern part of Australia.