Estimating the hidden number of scrapie affected holdings in Great Britain using a simple, truncated count model allowing for heterogeneity



None of the current surveillance streams monitoring the presence of scrapie in Great Britain provide a comprehensive and unbiased estimate of the prevalence of the disease at the holding level. Previous work to estimate the under-ascertainment adjusted prevalence of scrapie in Great Britain applied multiple-list capture-recapture methods. The enforcement of new control measures on scrapie-affected holdings in 2004 has stopped the overlapping between surveillance sources and, hence, the application of multiple-list capture-recapture models. Alternative methods, still under the capture-recapture methodology, relying on repeated entries in one single list have been suggested in these situations. In this article, we apply one-list capture-recapture approaches to data held on the Scrapie Notifications Database to estimate the undetected population of scrapie-affected holdings with clinical disease in Great Britain for the years 2002, 2003, and 2004. For doing so, we develop a new diagnostic tool for indication of heterogeneity as well as a new understanding of the Zelterman and Chao’s lower bound estimators to account for potential unobserved heterogeneity. We demonstrate that the Zelterman estimator can be viewed as a maximum likelihood estimator for a special, locally truncated Poisson likelihood equivalent to a binomial likelihood. This understanding allows the extension of the Zelterman approach by means of logistic regression to include observed heterogeneity in the form of covariates—in case studied here, the holding size and country of origin. Our results confirm the presence of substantial unobserved heterogeneity supporting the application of our two estimators. The total scrapie-affected holding population in Great Britain is around 300 holdings per year. None of the covariates appear to inform the model significantly.

Key Words

Capture-recapture Chao estimator and bounds Zelterman estimator 


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Copyright information

© International Biometric Society 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dankmar Böhning
    • 1
  • Victor Javier Del Rio Vilas
    • 2
  1. 1.Quantitative Biology and Applied Statistics (QBAS), School of Biological Sciences, Harry Pitt BuildingThe University of Reading, Earley GateReadingUK
  2. 2.Veterinary Laboratories AgencyAddlestone, SurreyUK

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