A retrospective study on the epidemiology of foot-and-mouth disease in Bhutan


A retrospective study on the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Bhutan, between the years 1996 and 2008, based on the data collected through passive surveillance, was undertaken. A total of 230 outbreaks of FMD at sub-district level were recorded in 299 villages located in 19 out of the 20 districts in the country. There were no significant differences between the years (P = 0.998) or months (P = 0.989) on the incidence of FMD. The sub-districts in the north (altitude >1,000 m above mean sea level) had significantly (P = 0.008) higher incidences of outbreaks in winter than in summer. The sub-districts that shared border with India had significantly more outbreaks than those that didn't (P = 0.001). Cattle were the most predominant species affected being involved in all of the outbreaks reported. Serotype O, which constituted 70.6% of the outbreaks typed was the most predominant serotype prevalent in Bhutan followed by A (16.7%), Asia 1 (8.8%), and C (3.9%). Cattle density was significantly positively correlated (P = 0.023) with the incidence of disease. Three waves of outbreaks of epidemic proportions were reported in 1997/1998, 2002/2003, and 2007/2008 due to the PanAsia strain of the O serotype. The study highlights the incursion of the PanAsia strain of the O serotype into the country, possibly, through the transboundary movement of animals and the need for active surveillance of FMD, especially at the border areas. The study also highlights the significance of the O serotype and cattle as the main indicator species in the epidemiology of FMD in Bhutan. The findings from this study can be used as baseline epidemiological data for further research to understand the epidemiology of FMD in Bhutan.

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We would like to thank the Royal Government of Bhutan for facilitating the conduct of this research. We would also like to thank Dr. Tenzin, Karma Dekar, and Lokey Thapa for providing the outbreak data from the VIS database. Thanks are also extended to the WRLFMD at Pirbright, UK, for undertaking serotyping and molecular analysis of the samples. We wish to thank Evan Sergeant from the AusVet Animal Health Services, Australia for reviewing the manuscript. We also wish to thank the Australian Bio-security Cooperative Research Centre and Murdoch University, Australia, for funding this research.

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Correspondence to Kinzang Dukpa.

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Dukpa, K., Robertson, I.D., Edwards, J.R. et al. A retrospective study on the epidemiology of foot-and-mouth disease in Bhutan. Trop Anim Health Prod 43, 495–502 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-010-9722-z

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  • Foot-and-mouth disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Retrospective
  • Bhutan