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Prev Vet Med. 2010 May 1;94(3-4):170-7. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2010.02.010. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

From explanation to prediction: a model for recurrent bovine tuberculosis in Irish cattle herds.

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  • 1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1. dwolfe@uoguelph.ca


There is a good understanding of factors associated with bovine tuberculosis (BTB) risk in Irish herds. As yet, however, this knowledge has not been incorporated into predictive models with the potential for improved, risk-based surveillance. The goal of the study was to enhance the national herd scoring system for BTB risk, thus leading to improved identification of cattle herds at high risk of recurrent BTB episodes. A retrospective cohort study was conducted to develop a statistical model predictive of recurrent bovine tuberculosis episodes in cattle herds in the Republic of Ireland. Herd-level disease history data for the previous 12 years, the previous 3 years, the previous episode, and the current-episode were used in survival analyses to determine the aspects of disease history that were predictive of a recurrent breakdown within 3 years of a cleared BTB episode. Relative to herds with 0-1 standard reactors in the current BTB episode, hazard ratios increased to 1.3 and 1.6 for herds with 2-5 and >5 standard reactors, respectively. Compared to herds with <30 animals, hazard ratios increased from 1.8 to 2.5 and then to 3.1 for herds with 30-79, 80-173, and >174 animals respectively. Relative to herds with <4 herd-level tests in the previous 3 years, herds with 4-5 and >5 tests had 1.1 and 1.4 times greater hazard of a BTB breakdown. Herds that did not have a BTB episode in the 5 years prior to their 2001 episode were 0.8 times less likely to breakdown in the next 3 years than herds that did. Herds breaking down in the spring or summer were 0.8 times less likely to suffer a recurrent breakdown than herds breaking down in autumn or winter (this was likely due to seasonality in testing regimes). The presence of a confirmed BTB lesion was not predictive of increased risk of recurrent BTB. Despite the availability of detailed disease history, the predictive ability of the model was poor. One explanation for this was that herds suffering a recurrence of BTB on their first test after clearing a BTB episode were different from herds that broke down later in the period at risk. Future research might need to include additional variables to identify which subsets of herd BTB episodes, if any, have identifiable features that are predictive of recurrent breakdowns.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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