Foot and mouth disease in Zambia: Spatial and temporal distributions of outbreaks, assessment of clusters and implications for control

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Sinkala, Y ; Simuunza, M ; Muma, J B ; Pfeiffer, D U ; Kasanga, C J ; Mweene, A

Zambia has been experiencing low livestock productivity as well as trade restrictions owing to the occurrence of foot and mouth disease (FMD), but little is known about the epidemiology of the disease in these endemic settings. The fundamental questions relate to the spatio-temporal distribution of FMD cases and what determines their occurrence. A retrospective review of FMD cases in Zambia from 1981 to 2012 was conducted using geographical information systems and the SaTScan software package. Information was collected from peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, laboratory reports, unpublished scientific reports and grey literature. A space-time permutation probability model using a varying time window of one year was used to scan for areas with high infection rates. The spatial scan statistic detected a significant purely spatial cluster around the Mbala-Isoka area between 2009 and 2012, with secondary clusters in Sesheke-Kazungula in 2007 and 2008, the Kafue flats in 2004 and 2005 and Livingstone in 2012. This study provides evidence of the existence of statistically significant FMD clusters and an increase in occurrence in Zambia between 2004 and 2012. The identified clusters agree with areas known to be at high risk of FMD. The FMD virus transmission dynamics and the heterogeneous variability in risk within these locations may need further investigation.
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