The value of animal movement tracing: A case study simulating the spread and control of foot-and-mouth disease in California

F. O. Mardones, H. zu Donha, C. Thunes, V. Velez, Tim Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to estimate the benefits of an electronic animal tracing system and an improved paper-based system in terms of the potential spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) if introduced in California. A spatial, stochastic simulation model and data for California were used to simulate FMD outbreaks originating from a dairy herd as the index case (IC). Descriptive statistics of the simulated FMD outbreak extent and duration were examined to determine the benefit of an electronic system or paper-based tracing systems of varying efficacies. According to the simulations, an electronic tracing system would reduce the median number of infected premises (IPs) by 8-81%, depending on size of the IC herd compared with the results expected from identifying IPs based on clinical signs alone. The benefit also varied by IP herd type, e.g. ≥50% for sheep farms, goat farms and calf and heifer raising operations and ≤20% for swine and beef premises. The electronic system simulated a decrease in the median duration from at least 200. d to 42. d, if the IC were a small dairy and from 110. d to 45. d if the IC were a large dairy. The impact of an introduction of FMD in California could be reduced substantially even without an electronic system, if paper-based tracing were more efficient; however, these benefits are far less than those that could be realized from an electronic animal identification system. Results show that substantial benefits, in terms of fewer IPs and infected animals and reduced epidemic duration, may be realized as a result of an efficient electronic animal identification system, compared with a paper-based animal tracing system; however, until then, an improvement in the current system, especially regarding the ability to trace movements the day prior to a premises being diagnosed with FMD, may be highly beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-138
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013


  • Animal identification system
  • Epidemic model
  • Foot-and-mouth disease
  • Traceability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals


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