Behavioural factors of Dutch pig producers related to control of toxoplasma gondii infections in pigs

Coen P.A. Van Wagenberg*, Marcel A.P.M. Van Asseldonk, Martijn Bouwknegt, Henk J. Wisselink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a food safety hazard which causes a substantial human disease burden. Infected pig meat is a common risk source of toxoplasmosis. Therefore, it is important to control T. gondii infections in pigs. Improving farm management to control the introduction risk likely contributes to that aim. A pig producer only implements control measures when he or she is aware of the underlying problem, wants to solve it, and is able to solve it. If a pig producer is not implementing appropriate control measures, behavioural change interventions can be introduced to overcome constraining behavioural factors. To aid in designing behaviour change interventions, this study analysed behavioural factors of Dutch pig producers in terms of capability, opportunity and motivation to control T. gondii infections in pigs. Key risk sources analysed focused on the life cycle of T. gondii, with cats as primary host, rodents as intermediate host, and uncovered feed as an important risk source. A survey was conducted among Dutch pig producers. Responses were analysed using descriptive and cluster analysis. Results showed that around 80% of the 67 responding pig producers was aware of key risk sources of T. gondii infections in pigs. Respondents also rated risk sources that are not known to increase the risk of T. gondii infections in pigs as somewhat important. Many respondents did not know about potential consequences of a T. gondii infection in pigs on human health. Two third expected some impact on pig performance, which is incorrect because T. gondii generally does not make pigs ill. Most respondents indicated to have the motivation and opportunity to control the risk sources cats, rodents and uncovered feed. Three pig producer clusters were identified: one with higher capability to control rodents, one with lower motivation to control rodents and cats and to cover feed storages, and one with lower scores on the importance of rodent control for pigs, human health and farm profit. We conclude that, although many pig producers have knowledge about risk sources for and consequences of T. gondii infections in pigs, the public health impact and risks of T. gondii infections in pigs are not yet common knowledge among all Dutch pig producers. Furthermore, Dutch pig producers differ in opportunity and motivation to control T. gondii infections. Targeted interventions to address these specific constraining behavioural factors can help to improve the control of T. gondii infections in pigs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104899
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Volume176
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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