Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Probability of Rhipicephalus microplus introduction into farms by cattle movement using a Bayesian Belief Network.

Abstract

Attempts to eliminate Rhipicephalus microplus from Uruguay have been unsuccessful, and, currently, the country is divided into two areas: a tick-free area and a tick-infested area. In the tick-infested area, different farms face different situations. Some farms are in regions where, due to environmental conditions or a lack of infrastructure, it is difficult to eliminate R. microplus, and the only option is to control it. In contrast, other farms can attempt complete removal. Before deciding whether a farmer should attempt to eliminate R. microplus, the probability of reintroduction must be evaluated. The objective of this study was to develop a probabilistic model based on a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) to assess the likelihood of a farm becoming infested with R. microplus via the introduction of tick-infested cattle. Only the tick-infested area was considered in the development of this model. Nine variables related to environmental conditions and biosecurity measures, with a focus on cattle movement, were considered. Three different sources of data were used to populate the BBN model: data from the literature; a representative national survey from 2016; and a survey developed to identify biosecurity practices on farms. Model sensitivity and specificity were assessed, and an overall accuracy of 92% was obtained. The model was applied to 33 farms located in the tick-infested area. For one farm, the probability of introduction of R. microplus was 1%; for three farms, the probability was between 21% and 34%; for seven farms, it was between 66% and 76%; and for 22 farms, the probability was greater than 83%. This model was useful for estimating the probability of the introduction of R. microplus into farms, making it possible to assess the impact that the evaluated biosecurity measures have on the probability of introduction and, thus, guiding more objective decision making about the control or elimination of R. microplus from farms.