Publications

Network analysis of cattle movements in Chile : Implications for pathogen spread and control

Alocilla, Oscar; Monti, Gustavo

Summary

Livestock movement between herds is one of the main routes for a pathogen to spread between herds. Understanding the contact structure, patterns and importance of specific individuals and classes can help assess dissemination risk, control, and surveillance measures. In this study, the cattle herd's contact structure in southern Chile was characterized based on the study of movement within one of the most important geographical regions for livestock production. Using Social Network Analysis, network measures of centrality, network cohesion and contact chains were estimated to identify essential features that can influence disease transmission among premises. Static and disaggregated by season networks were built for the entire set of nodes and for the Los Rios region animal flow only. For all networks, it was found that most nodes had a few movements; meanwhile, a small number of them were highly connected. Livestock markets have a powerful influence over the networks, being the most connected and central nodes, appearing as candidates for surveillance because of their possible role as super spreaders. Nodes attributes were associated with the likelihood of having high contact chains measures, such as herd class, location, and presence of markets anywhere on the contact chain. This work is the first deep analysis in livestock flows in Chile and shows the importance of animal movement data interpretation to assess pathogen risk spread in the country.