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Evaluation of single reactor bovine tuberculosis breakdowns based on analysis of reactors slaughtered at an Irish export meat plant

Murray, D., Clegg, T. A., More, S. J.
The Veterinary record 2012 v.170 no.20 pp. 516
Mycobacterium bovis, animal tests, animals, bovine tuberculosis, databases, exports, fisheries, herds, meat, multivariate analysis, necropsy, tuberculin, Ireland
The ‘Singleton Protocol’ was adopted by the Irish Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (DAFF) in 1996 to address the incomplete specificity of the single intra-dermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT) used in Ireland for the detection of animals infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB). The protocol allows the early restoration of disease-free status to herds with a single reactor breakdown, where the herd was not confirmed as infected with Mycobacterium bovis by epidemiological investigation, by postmortem examination or by further test. The current study examines the ability of the Singleton Protocol to identify false-positive reactors. It investigates the subsequent herd-reactor rate following single reactor removal and analyses the factors leading to a positive postmortem lesion outcome and a positive reactor retest result. Postmortem lesion results were obtained for 371 reactor animals from single reactor breakdowns that were killed at an export meat plant over a 19-month period. Epidemiological and test data for these animals and their herds were obtained from DAFF databases and analysed by univariate and multivariate statistical analysis. Singleton candidates had an 18.7 per cent lower lesion rate than single animal breakdowns not meeting the singleton criteria. No significant difference was found between Singletons and non singletons in the subsequent reactor retest results. Skin thickness at the SICTT is the most significant determinant of a positive lesion result. The area bTB history was shown to be a significant variable in producing a positive reactor retest result.