The spread of pathogens in swine populations is in part determined by movements of animals between farms. However, understanding additional characteristics that predict disease outbreaks and uncovering landscape factors related to between-farm spread are crucial steps toward risk mitigation. This study integrates animal movements with environmental risk factors to identify the occurrence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) outbreaks. Using weekly farm-level incidence data from 332 sow farms, we applied machine-learning algorithms to quantify associations between risk factors and PEDV outbreaks with the ultimate goal of training predictive models and to identify the most important factors associated with PEDV occurrence. Our best algorithm was able to correctly predict whether an outbreak occurred during one-week periods with >80% accuracy. The most important predictors included pig movements into neighboring farms. Other important neighborhood attributes included hog density, environmental and weather factors such as vegetation, wind speed, temperature, and precipitation, and topographical features such as slope. Our neighborhood-based approach allowed us to simultaneously capture disease risks associated with long-distance animal movement as well as local spatial dynamics. The model presented here forms the foundation for near real-time disease mapping and will advance disease surveillance and control for endemic swine pathogens in the United States.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would also like to thank the Swine Health Monitoring Project participants for sharing information. We would like to thank Elizabeth Palmi for helping with the analysis of the movement data. This work was supported by Swine Health Information Center and the National Pork Board.
© 2019, The Author(s).