One of the priority areas for Wageningen Bioveterinary Research is the development of diagnostic tests. The focus is on expanding the diagnostic arsenal with new tests for diseases that are not present (yet) in the Netherlands and on developing tests that can detect infections faster and more accurately than existing tests can.
To apply diagnostic tests effectively, thorough validation of test sensitivity and test specificity is required. For this purpose, the true status of an animal (is it actually infected, is it actually excreting pathogens, etc.) must be known. However, a perfect test, with 100% test sensitivity and specificity (the 'gold standard'), is usually not available. In such cases – and when the prevalence is low – Bayesian analysis can provide a solution.
The epidemiology group has extensive experience in conducting this type of statistical analysis, which is successfully applied to diagnostic tests for foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza.