Livestock disease resilience: from individual to herd level

Andrea Wilson, P. W. Knapp , Tanja Opriessnig, Simon More

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Infectious diseases are a major threat to the sustainable production of high-producing animals. Control efforts, such as vaccination or breeding approaches often target improvements to individual resilience to infections, i.e. they strengthen an animal’s ability to cope with infection, rather than preventing infection per se . There is increasing evidence for the contribution of non-clinical carriers (animals that become infected and are infectious but do not develop clinical signs) to the overall health and production of livestock populations for a wide range of infectious diseases. Therefore,
we strongly advocate a shift of focus from increasing the disease resilience of individual animals to herd disease resilience as the appropriate target for sustainable disease control in livestock. Herd disease resilience not only captures the direct effects of vaccination or host genetics on the health and production performance of individuals, but also the indirect effects on the environmental pathogen load that herd members are exposed to. For diseases primarily caused by infectious pathogens shed by herd members, these indirect effects on herd resilience are mediated both by
individual susceptibility to infection and by characteristics (magnitude of infectiousness,
duration of infectious period) that influence pathogen shedding from infected
individuals. We review what is currently known about how vaccination and selective
breeding affect herd disease resilience and its underlying components, and outline the
changes required for improvement. To this purpose, we also seek to clarify and
harmonise the terminology used in the different animal science disciplines
Original languageEnglish
Article number100286
Early online date23 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2021


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