Identification of Salmonella high risk pig-herds in Belgium by using semiparametric quantile regression
Consumption of pork that is contaminated with Salmonella is an important source of human salmonellosis world wide. To control and prevent salmonellosis, Belgian pig-herds with high Salmonella infection burden are encouraged to take part in a control programme supporting the implementation of control measures. The Belgian government decided that only the 10% of pig-herds with the highest Salmonella infection burden (denoted high risk herds) can participate. To identify these herds, serological data reported as sample-to-positive ratios (SP-ratios) are collected. However, SP-ratios have an extremely skewed distribution and are heavily subject to confounding seasonal and animal age effects. Therefore, we propose to identify the 10% high risk herds by using semiparametric quantile regression with P-splines. In particular, quantile curves of animal SP-ratios are estimated as a function of sampling time and animal age. Then, pigs are classified into low and high risk animals with high risk animals having an SP-ratio that is larger than the corresponding estimated upper quantile. Finally, for each herd, the number of high risk animals is calculated as well as the beta–binomial p-value reflecting the hypothesis that the Salmonella infection burden is higher in that herd compared with the other herds. The 10% pig-herds with the lowest p-values are then identified as high risk herds. In addition, since high risk herds are supported to implement control measures, a risk factor analysis is conducted by using binomial generalized linear mixed models to investigate factors that are associated with decreased or increased Salmonella infection burden. Finally, since the choice of a specific upper quantile is to a certain extent arbitrary, a sensitivity analysis is conducted comparing different choices of upper quantiles.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2008-04-01