Why do farmers and veterinarians not report all bovine abortions, as requested by the clinical brucellosis surveillance system in France?

BMC veterinary research

PubMedID: 24762103

Bronner A, Hénaux V, Fortané N, Hendrikx P, Calavas D. Why do farmers and veterinarians not report all bovine abortions, as requested by the clinical brucellosis surveillance system in France?. BMC Vet Res. 2014;10(1):93.
BACKGROUND
Since 2005, France has been officially free of brucellosis, an infectious disease that causes abortion in cattle and can be transmitted from cattle to humans. Recent animal and human cases have drawn attention to the need to prevent infection of humans and animals from any primary outbreaks. In order to detect any new outbreaks as soon as possible, a clinical surveillance system requires farmers and veterinarians to report each abortion and to test the aborting cow for brucellosis. However, under-reporting limits the sensitivity of this system. Our objective was to identify the barriers and motivations influencing field actors in their decision to report or not to report bovine abortions. We used a qualitative approach with semi-structured interviews of 12 cattle farmers and their eight veterinarians.

RESULTS
Our analysis showed that four main themes influence the decision-making process of farmers and veterinarians: 1) the perceived risk of brucellosis and other abortive diseases; 2) the definition of a suspected case of brucellosis and other abortive diseases adopted by field actors, which is less sensitive than the mandatory definition; 3) the cost-benefit analysis conducted by actors, taking into account regulatory and health aspects, economic and financial losses, technical and practical factors; 4) the level of cooperation within the socio-technical network. We discussed how early detection may be improved by revising the definition of abortion, extending the time frame for notification and generalising the differential diagnosis of the causes of abortion.

CONCLUSIONS
In contrast to quantitative approaches, qualitative studies can identify the factors (including unknown factors) influencing the decision-making process of field actors and reveal why they take those factors into consideration. Our qualitative study sheds light on the factors underlying the poor sensitivity of clinical brucellosis surveillance ystem for cattle in France, and suggests that early detection may be improved by considering actors' perceptions. We believe our findings may provide further insight into ways of improving other clinical surveillance systems and thus reduce the risk of disease.