The aim of this study was to identify limitations and incentives in reporting clinically suspect situations, possibly caused by classical swine fever (CSF), to veterinary authorities with the ultimate aim to facilitate early detection of CSF outbreaks. Focus group sessions were held with policy makers from the veterinary authorities, and representatives of veterinary practitioners and pig farmer unions. Personal interviews with a small group of pig farmers and practitioners were held to check limitations raised and solutions proposed during the focus group sessions. An electronic questionnaire was mailed to pig farmers and practitioners to investigate perceptions and attitudes with respect to clinically suspect situations possibly caused by CSF. After triangulating the responses of veterinary authorities, veterinary practitioners and farmers, six themes emerged across all groups: (1) lack of knowledge on the early signs of CSF; (2) guilt, shame and prejudice; (3) negative opinion on control measures; (4) dissatisfaction with post-reporting procedures; (5) lack of trust in government bodies; (6) uncertainty and lack of transparency of reporting procedures.The following solutions to facilitate early detection of CSF were put forward: (a) development of a clinical decision-support system for vets and farmers, in order to get faster diagnosis and detection of CSF; (b) possibility to submit blood samples directly to the reference laboratory to exclude CSF in a clinical situation with non-specific clinical signs, without isolation of the farm and free of charge for the individual farmer; (c) decrease social and economic consequences of reporting CSF, for example by improving the public opinion on first reports; (d) better schooling of veterinary officers to deal with emotions and insecurity of farmers in the process after reporting; (e) better communication of rules and regulations, where to report, what will happen next; (f) up-to-date website with information and visual material of the clinical signs of CSF.

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Veterinary Microbiology
Department of Psychology

Elbers, A. R. W., Gorgievski, M., van der Velden, P., Loeffen, W. L. A., & Zarafshani, K. (2010). A socio-psychological investigation into limitations and incentives concerning reporting a clinically suspect situation aimed at improving early detection of classical swine fever outbreaks. Veterinary Microbiology, 142(1-2), 108–118. doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.09.051