Prevalence and risk factors for foot and mouth disease infection in small ruminants in Israel

Ehud Elnekave, Kees van Maanen, Hila Shilo, Boris Gelman, Nick Storm, Svetlane Berdenstain, Olaf Berke, Eyal Klement*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


During the last decade, 27% of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks in Israel affected small ruminant (SR) farms. FMD outbreaks reoccur in Israel despite vaccination of all livestock and application of control measures. We performed a cross-sectional serological study, aimed at estimating the prevalence of FMD infection in SR in Israel and the possible risk factors for infection. Overall, 2305 samples of adult sheep (n = 1948) and goats (n = 357) were collected during 2011-14 in two separate surveys. One survey was based on random sampling of intensive management system farms and the other was originally aimed at the detection of Brucella melitensis at extensive and semi-intensive management system farms. Sera were tested by NS blocking ELISA (PrioCHECK®). The serological prevalence of antibodies against non structural proteins (NSP) of FMD virus was estimated at 3.7% (95% confidence interval (CI95%) = 3.0% -4.5%). Additionally, a significantly lower infection prevalence (p value = 0.049) of 1.0% (CI95% = 0.1%-3.6%) was found in a small sample (197 sera) of young SR, collected during 2012. The positive samples from adult SR were scattered all over Israel, though two significant infection clusters were found by the spatial scan statistic. Occurrence of an outbreak on a non-SR farm within 5 km distance was associated with a fifteen times increase in the risk of FMD infection of SR in the univariable analysis. Yet, this variable was not included in the multivariable analysis due to collinearities with the other independent variables. Multivariable logistic regression modeling found significantly negative associations (P value < 0.05) of grazing and being in a herd larger than 500 animals with risk of infection. Grazing herds and herds larger than 500 animals, both represent farms that are intensively or semi-intensively managed. Higher maintenance of bio-safety, fewer introductions of new animals and higher vaccination compliance in these farms may explain their lower risk of infection by FMD virus. We conclude that despite the wide distribution of infection among SR farms, low farm level prevalence indicates that in Israel SR pose only limited role in the transmission and dissemination of FMD. This conclusion may be applicable for other endemic countries in which, similar to Israel, all livestock are vaccinated against FMD.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • FMD
  • Goats
  • Non structural proteins
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factors
  • Sheep


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