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Network Analysis of Swine Shipments in China: The First Step to Inform Disease Surveillance and Risk Mitigation Strategies

China's pork industry has been dramatically changing in the last few years. Pork imports are increasing, and small-scale farms are being consolidated into large-scale multi-site facilities. These industry changes increase the need for traceability and science-based decisions around disease monitoring, surveillance, risk mitigation, and outbreak response. This study evaluated the network structure and dynamics of a typical large-scale multi-site swine facility in China, as well as the implications for disease spread using network-based metrics. Forward reachability paths were used to demonstrate the extent of epidemic spread under variable site and temporal disease introductions. Swine movements were found to be seasonal, with more movements at the beginning of the year, and fewer movements of larger pigs later in the year. The network was highly egocentric, with those farms within the evaluated production system demonstrating high connectivity. Those farms which would contribute the highest epidemic potential were identified. Among these, different farms contributed to higher expected epidemic spread at different times of the year. Using these approaches, increased availability of swine movement networks in China could help to identify priority locations for surveillance and risk mitigation for both endemic problems and transboundary diseases such as the recently introduced, and rapidly spreading, African swine fever virus.

O'Hara K, Zhang R, Jung Y, Zhou X, Qian Y, Martínez-López B. Network analysis of swine shipments in China: the first step to inform disease surveillance and risk mitigation strategies. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Apr.