Modelling of Johne's disease control options in beef cattle: a decision support approach
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.livsci.2012.03.002
Johne's disease in cattle is a contagious wasting disease caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Johne's infection is characterised by a long subclinical phase and can therefore go undetected for long periods of time during which substantial production losses can occur. The protracted nature of Johne's infection therefore presents a challenge for both veterinarians and farmers when discussing control options due to a paucity of information and limited test performance when screening for the disease. The objectives were to model Johne's control decisions in suckler beef cattle using a decision support approach, thus implying equal focus on ‘end user’ (veterinarian) participation whilst still focusing on the technical disease modelling aspects during the decision support model development. The model shows how Johne's disease is likely to affect a herd over time both in terms of physical and financial impacts. In addition, the model simulates the effect on production from two different Johne's control strategies; herd management measures and test and cull measures. The article also provides and discusses results from a sensitivity analysis to assess the effects on production from improving the currently available test performance. Output from running the model shows that a combination of management improvements to reduce routes of infection and testing and culling to remove infected and infectious animals is likely to be the least-cost control strategy.