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Rev Sci Tech. 2001 Apr;20(1):151-79.

Control of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection in agricultural species.

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Animal Health Australia's National Johne's Disease Program, c/o AusVet Animal Health Services Pty Ltd, P.O. Box 2321, Orange, NSW, 2800, Australia.


Paratuberculosis or Johne's disease is a chronic intestinal disease caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, which continues to spread in agricultural species. Control of paratuberculosis is challenging and should not be underestimated. Due to the long incubation period of the infection, disease is largely subclinical in domesticated livestock. Hence, direct effects on animal productivity and welfare are often masked and may appear insufficient to justify large investments in control programmes by individual farmers, livestock industries or governments. Furthermore, in some countries the main effects of the disease are indirect, resulting from the impact of market discrimination against herds and flocks known to be infected, or from the control measures enforced to reduce transmission. In such circumstances, producers may be unwilling to co-operate with surveillance that may detect infection in herds or flocks. As control programmes are rarely successful in eliminating the infection from a herd or flock in the short term without an aggressive and costly programme, financial and community support assists producers to deal with the challenge. Successful prevention and control depends on animal health authorities and livestock industries acquiring a good understanding of the nature and epidemiology of infection, and of the application of tools for diagnosis and control. Building support for control programmes under the leadership of the affected livestock industries is critical, as programmes are unlikely to be successful without ongoing political will, supported by funding for research, surveillance and control.

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