The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown that management of infectious diseases requires a top-down approach which must be complemented with a bottom-up response to be effective and efficient.
SAFOSO in collaboration with the One Health Center of Excellence of the University of Florida (Project coordinator) and the Institute for Scientific Interchange (ISI) Foundation implemented the VirNAA project which aimed to investigate a novel approach to surveillance for transboundary animal diseases using African Swine Fever as a model. We collected data both at a population level and at the local level on information-seeking behavior respectively through digital data and targeted questionnaire-based surveys to relevant stakeholders such as pig farmers and veterinary authorities. The Estonian University of Life Sciences contributed to the field survey implemented in Estonia.
Our study shows how information-seeking behavior and resulting public attention during an epidemic can be identified through novel data streams from digital platforms such as Wikipedia or social media platforms. However, field surveys aimed at local workers and veterinary authorities remain a crucial tool to assess more in-depth preparedness and awareness among front-line actors. We conclude that these two tools should be used in combination to maximize the outcome of surveillance and prevention activities for select transboundary animal diseases such as African Swine Fever. The publication can be accessed here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0252972
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