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Study Shows That the Risk of Release of Foot-and-Mouth-Disease Virus from Israel Via Export of Bull Semen is Very Low

18 October 2017

A team of researchers led by Prof. Dirk Pfeiffer (Chair Professor of One Health, CityU) has assessed the risk of release of foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus through export of bull semen in order to estimate the risk for FMD-free countries considering purchasing Israeli bull semen.

A stochastic risk assessment model was used to estimate this risk, defined as the annual likelihood of exporting at least one ejaculate of bull semen contaminated with viable FMD virus. A total of 45 scenarios were assessed to account for uncertainty and variability around specific parameter estimates and to evaluate the effect of various mitigation measures, such as performing a pre-export test on semen ejaculates. Under the most plausible scenario, the annual likelihood of exporting bull semen contaminated with FMD virus had a median of 1.3 * 10−7 for an export of 100 ejaculates per year. This corresponds to one infected ejaculate exported every 7 million years. Under the worst-case scenario, the median of the risk rose to 7.9 * 10−5, which is equivalent to the export of one infected ejaculate every 12,000 years. Sensitivity analysis indicated that the most influential parameter is the probability of viral excretion in infected bulls.

This study suggests that the risk of release of FMD virus from Israel via export of bull semen is very low, even though Israel is not officially free from FMD.

Meyer,A., Zamir,L., Ben Yair Gilboa,A., Gelman,B., Pfeiffer,D.U. and Vergne,T. (2017):
Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Release of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus via Export of Bull Semen from Israel.
Risk Analysis,