National monitoring of Ascaris suum related liver pathologies in English abattoirs: A time-series analysis, 2005-2010
Ascaris suum is the most important internal parasite in farmed pigs world-wide. In England, the BPEX Pig Health Scheme (BPHS) monitors the prevalence of ascariosis in slaughtered finished pigs by identifying milk spots – the healing lesions caused by A. suum larvae migration through the liver. This study investigates the trend of milk spot lesions from July 2005 to December 2010 to identify the progress made by the industry in controlling this parasitic disease. For visual explorations, the monthly prevalence for milk spots was modelled using “STL”, a seasonal-trend decomposition method based on locally weighted regression. Random effects binomial modelling accounting for clustering at batch level was used to test the significance of the trend and seasonality. Additionally, the differences in the milk spot prevalence trends for BPHS members (those that joined the scheme) and non-members were investigated and tested. A mean of 12,442 pigs was assessed per month (in 290 batches) across 12 pig abattoirs over the study period, from which a monthly mean of 7102 pigs (159 batches) came from BPHS members. A mild overall decrease in prevalence of milk spots over the monitored period was identified as well as a seasonal variation which showed peaks in summer and at the beginning of autumn. BPHS members maintained a lower prevalence than non-members. The results from this work illustrate ascariosis as a persistent problem in current farm production.
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