Successful animal disease control using interdisciplinary approaches

Duration of the project

01.06.2020. - 15.12.2020.

Countries and institutions involved in the project

Veterinary Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health

Project Manager

Prof. Alvydas Malakauskas

Project goals

Participatory epidemiology originates from social sciences and is used in veterinary medicine since the 1980s. It was mainly applied in developing countries including the rural community in the design and implementation of animal disease control. However, the benefit of including affected people and key stakeholders in designing and performing control measures is increasingly seen also in developed countries. The project aims at a better understanding of perceptions of different stakeholders regarding disease control and subsequently a better communication between animal health professionals and stakeholders involved. As a case-study, the project will focus on African swine fever (ASF). However, the methods used will be applicable to other diseases as well. ASF is circulating within the wild boar population in Lithuania since 2014, threatening the domestic pig sector and severely affecting the economy. The disease affects different stakeholders, amongst them hunters. They are the key persons in the control of ASF in wild boar. Their understanding of the disease and their willingness to support control measures is inevitable for containing the spread of ASF.

Furthermore, the project aims to train local staff in participatory epidemiology to gain a long-term improvement in communication between stakeholders, scientist and affected group of persons.

Main activities and venues

  1. A one-week workshop is planned to train Lithuanian colleagues in the application of participatory epidemiology (PE). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this workshop will probably have to be held online.
  1. A questionnaire will be sent out to hunters. On the basis of the results obtained of the questionnaire a participatory study will be designed. Based on the hunters’ answers, a participatory study is planned. This study will be conducted between August and October 2020 by Lithuanian colleagues who participated in the workshop. There will be 15-20 focus group discussions with Lithuanian hunters (5-7 hunters per group) throughout Lithuania.

Direct and indirect target groups

Direct target group: Lithuanian animal health professionals (8 persons), Lithuanian hunters (50-70 persons), other stakeholders and decision makers within the ASF control network (15-30).

Indirect target group: all Lithuanian animal health officials (15-30 persons), as the learned methods can be applied to various animal diseases and surveillance and control systems.