A relevant long-term impact of the circulation of a potentially contaminated vaccine on the distribution of scrapie in Italy. Results from a retrospective cohort study
Epidemiologia e Osservatorio Epidemiologico, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d'Aosta (IZSPLVA), Via Bologna 148, 10154, Turin, Italy
Veterinary Research 2012, 43:63 doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-63Published: 28 August 2012
A sudden increase in the incidence of scrapie in Italy in 1997 was subsequently linked to the use of a potentially infected vaccine against contagious agalactia. The relative risk for the exposed farms ranged between 6 and 40. The aim of this study was to assess the long-term impact of exposure to the potentially scrapie-contaminated vaccine on the Italian classical scrapie epidemic. We carried out a retrospective cohort study, fitting mixed-effects Poisson regression models, dividing national geographic areas into exposure categories on the basis of the vaccine circulation levels. We took into account the sensitivity of the surveillance system applied in the different areas. The population attributable fraction (PAF) was used to assess the impact on the total population of farms associated with the effect of circulation of the vaccine. The provinces where the vaccine was more often sold were noted to have a higher level of disease when compared to those provinces where the vaccine was sold less often (incidence rate ratio [IRR]: 2.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-6.5). The population attributable fraction was high (68.4%). Standardization techniques allowed to account for the potential of geographical variability in the sensitivity of the Italian surveillance system. Although the number of the directly exposed farms was limited, an important long-term impact of the vaccine circulation could be quantified in terms of secondary outbreaks likely due to the exchange of animals from directly exposed flocks.