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Risk-based strategies for surveillance of tuberculosis infection in cattle for low-risk areas in England and Scotland

L. C. M. Salvador, M. Deason, J. Enright, P. R. Bessell and R. R. Kao

Disease surveillance can be made more effective by either improving disease detection, providing cost savings, or doing both. Currently, cattle herds in low-risk areas (LRAs) for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in England are tested once every 4 years. In Scotland, the default herd testing frequency is also 4 years, but a risk-based system exempts some herds from testing altogether. To extend this approach to other areas, a bespoke understanding of at-risk herds and how risk-based surveillance can affect bTB detection is required. Here, we use a generalized linear mixed model to inform a Bayesian probabilistic model of freedom from infection and explore risk-based surveillance strategies in LRAs and Scotland. Our analyses show that in both areas the primary herd-level risk factors for bTB infection are the size of the herd and purchasing cattle from high-risk areas of Great Britain and/or Ireland. A risk-based approach can improve the current surveillance system by both increasing detection (9% and 7% fewer latent infections), and reducing testing burden (6% and 26% fewer animal tests) in LRAs and Scotland, respectively. Testing at-risk herds more frequently can also improve the level of detection by identifying more infected cases and reducing the hidden burden of the disease, and reduce surveillance effort by exempting low-risk herds from testing.

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