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Explaining the heterogeneous scrapie surveillance figures across Europe: a meta-regression approach

Del Rio Vilas V, Hopp P, Nunes T, Ru G, Sivam K, Ortiz-Pelaez A. Explaining the heterogeneous scrapie surveillance figures across Europe: a meta-regression approach. BMC Veterinay Research 2007; 3: 13

Background: Two annual surveys, the abattoir and the fallen stock, monitor the presence of scrapie across Europe. A simple comparison between the prevalence estimates in different countries reveals that, in 2003, the abattoir survey appears to detect more scrapie in some countries. This is contrary to evidence suggesting the greater ability of the fallen stock survey to detect the disease. We applied meta-analysis techniques to study this apparent heterogeneity in the behaviour of the surveys across Europe. Furthermore, we conducted a meta-regression analysis to assess the effect of country-specific characteristics on the variability. We have chosen the odds ratios between the two surveys to inform the underlying relationship between them and to allow comparisons between the countries under the meta-regression framework. Baseline risks, those of the slaughtered populations across Europe, and country-specific covariates, available from the European Commission Report, were inputted in the model to explain the heterogeneity.

Results: Our results show the presence of significant heterogeneity in the odds ratios between countries and no reduction in the variability after adjustment for the different risks in the baseline populations. Three countries contributed the most to the overall heterogeneity: Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands. The inclusion of country-specific covariates did not, in general, reduce the variability except for one variable: the proportion of the total adult sheep population sampled as fallen stock by each country. A large residual heterogeneity remained in the model indicating the presence of substantial effect variability between countries.

Conclusions: The meta-analysis approach was useful to assess the level of heterogeneity in the implementation of the surveys and to explore the reasons for the variation between countries.

NVI authors

Hopp Petter

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