A comparative assessment of the risks of introduction and spread of foot-and-mouth disease among different pig sectors in Australia.
Small-scale pig producers are believed to pose higher biosecurity risks for the introduction and spread of exotic diseases than commercial pig producers. However, the magnitude of these risks is poorly understood. This study is a comparative assessment of the risk of introduction and spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) through different sectors of the pig industry: (1) large-scale pig producers; (2) small-scale producers (<100 sows) selling at saleyards and abattoirs; and (3) small-scale producers selling through informal means. An exposure and consequence assessments were conducted using the World Organization for Animal Health methodology for risk analysis, assuming FMD virus was introduced into Australia through illegal importation of infected meat. A quantitative assessment, using scenario trees and Monte Carlo stochastic simulation, was used to calculate the probabilities of exposure and spread. Input data for these assessments were obtained from a series of data gathering exercises among pig producers, industry statistics, and literature. Findings of this study suggest there is an Extremely low probability of exposure (8.69×10-6 to 3.81×10-5) for the three sectors of the pig industry, with exposure through direct swill feeding being 10-100 times more likely to occur than through contact with infected feral pigs. Spread of FMD from the index farm is most likely to occur through movement of contaminated fomites, pigs, and ruminants. The virus is more likely to spread from small-scale piggeries selling at saleyards and abattoirs than from other piggeries. The most influential factors on the spread of FMD from the index farm is the ability of the farmer to detect FMD, the probability of FMD spread through contaminated fomites and the presence of ruminants on the farm. Although small-scale producers selling informally move animals less frequently and do not use external staff, movement of pigs to non-commercial pathways could jeopardize animal traceability in the event of a disease outbreak. This study suggests that producers' awareness on and engagement with legislative and industry requirements in relation to biosecurity and emergency animal disease management needs to be improved. Results from this study could be used by decision-makers to prioritize resource allocation for improving animal biosecurity in the pig industry.