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Prev Vet Med. 2019 Dec 12;175:104868. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2019.104868. [Epub ahead of print]

Cost-effectiveness of two different protocols for animal tracing investigations of bovine tuberculosis outbreaks in France.

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USC EPIMAI, Anses, École Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, F-94700, Maisons-Alfort, France. Electronic address:
USC EPIMAI, Anses, École Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, F-94700, Maisons-Alfort, France.


In the French bovine tuberculosis (bTB) surveillance program, tracing-on and back investigations have a major importance as, in 2016, they represented about 21 % of the detected outbreaks. Building on our previous work on the other surveillance system components (Poirier et al., 2019), we evaluated for the first time the sensitivity and the cost of the two existing protocols of bTB's tracing-on investigations trough scenario tree modelling with a stochastic approach. We used French databases (national database for bovine identification and database recording all bTB surveillance and control results) and direct and indirect costs collected in a previous study. These assessments allowed us to calculate the cost-effectiveness index (cost/sensitivity) of each tracing-on protocol. In the first protocol (trace-and-cull protocol), the animal(s) linking the farm to an outbreak are systematically culled for bacteriology, PCR and histology testing. In the second protocol (trace-and-test protocol), the traced animal is culled only if it had non-negative result to an intradermal cervical comparative tuberculin test (ICCT). We estimated herd sensitivity of the two tracing-on protocols for 12 herd types defined by their production type, size and herd turnover. For the trace-and-cull protocol, mean herd sensitivity was estimated between 67.3 % [66.8-67.7]CI95 % and 89.2 % [88.7-89.7]CI95 % and between 51.2 % [50.8-51.5]CI95 % and 73.1 % [72.6-73.6]CI95 % for the trace-and-test protocol, depending on herd type. The trace-and-cull protocol was between 278 €/herd and 717 €/herd more expensive than the trace-and-test protocol, depending on herd type. Regardless of herd type, the trace-and-cull protocol had the smaller cost/sensitivity ratio and was therefore the most cost-effective protocol. That work showed that systematically culling traced animals to perform bacteriology and PCR on them (trace-and-cull protocol) is associated with a better herd sensitivity and is more cost-effective for all herd types. That is consistent with French veterinary authorities' recommendations but does not account for sociological aspects such as the bond between the farmer and his animals. Yet, cost-effectiveness difference was minor in small dairy and beef herds with a low turnover, suggesting the protocol could be chosen depending on the epidemiological context in those herds.


Bovine tuberculosis; Cost; Cost-effectiveness; Scenario tree; Sensitivity; Surveillance

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