Implications of the cattle trade network in Cameroon for regional disease prevention and control
Motta P, Porphyre T, Handel I, Hammam SM, Ngu Ngwa V, Tanya V, Morgan K, Christley R, Bronsvoort BMD
Movement of live animals is a major risk factor for the spread of livestock diseases and zoonotic infections. Understanding contact patterns is key to informing cost-effective surveillance and control strategies. In West and Central Africa some of the most rapid urbanization globally is expected to increase the demand for animal-source foods and the need for safer and more efficient animal production. Livestock trading points represent a strategic contact node in the dissemination of multiple pathogens. From October 2014 to May 2015 official transaction records were collected and a questionnaire-based survey was carried out in cattle markets throughout Western and Central-Northern Cameroon. The data were used to analyse the cattle trade network including a total of 127 livestock markets within Cameroon and five neighboring countries. This study explores for the first time the influence of animal trade on infectious disease spread in the region. The investigations showed that national borders do not present a barrier against pathogen dissemination and that non-neighbouring countries are epidemiologically connected, highlighting the importance of a regional approach to disease surveillance, prevention and control. Furthermore, these findings provide evidence for the benefit of strategic risk-based approaches for disease monitoring, surveillance and control, as well as for communication and training purposes through targeting key regions, highly connected livestock markets and central trading links.