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A national animal disease surveillance network initiated by the Lao PDR government is adopted and reinforced by a joint research project between the National Animal Health Laboratory (NAHL), the Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF), and the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU). The network is strengthened by staff training and practical exercises and is utilised to provide zoonotic or high-impact disease information on a national scale. Between January and December 2020, large ruminant samples are collected monthly from 18 abattoirs, one in each province, by provincial and district agriculture and forestry officers. The surveillance network collected a total of 4247 serum samples (1316 buffaloes and 2931 cattle) over this period. Samples are tested for antibodies against Brucella spp., Coxiella burnetii (Q fever) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease Non-Structural Protein (FMD NSP) using commercial ELISA kits and the Rose Bengal test. Seroprevalences of Q fever and brucellosis in large ruminants are low at 1.7% (95% CI: 1.3, 2.1) and 0.7% (95% CI: 0.5, 1.0) respectively, while for FMD NSP it is 50.5% (95% CI: 49.0, 52.0). Univariate analyses show differences in seroprevalences of Q fever between destination (abattoir) province (p-value = 0.005), province of origin (p-value = 0.005), animal type (buffalo or cattle) (p-value = 0.0008), and collection month (p-value = 3.4 × 10−6). Similar to Q fever, seroprevalences of brucellosis were significantly different for destination province (p-value < 0.00001), province of origin (p-value < 0.00001), animal type (p-value = 9.9 × 10−5) and collection month (p-value < 0.00001), plus body condition score (p-value = 0.003), and age (p-value = 0.007). Additionally, risk factors of the FMD NSP dataset include the destination province (p-value < 0.00001), province of origin (p-value < 0.00001), sex (p-value = 7.97 × 10−8), age (p-value = 0.009), collection date (p-value < 0.00001), and collection month (p-value < 0.00001). Spatial analyses revealed that there is no spatial correlation of FMD NSP seropositive animals. High-risk areas for Q fever and brucellosis are identified by spatial analyses. Further investigation of the higher risk areas would provide a better epidemiological understanding of both diseases in Lao PDR. In conclusion, the abattoir serological survey provides useful information about disease exposure and potential risk factors. The network is a good base for field and laboratory staff training in practical technical skills. However, the sustainability of such a surveillance activity is relatively low without an external source of funding, given the operational costs and insufficient government budget. The cost-effectiveness of the abattoir survey could be increased by targeting hotspot areas, reducing fixed costs, and extending the focus to cover more diseases.

Original publication





Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease



Publication Date





78 - 78