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Breakdown severity during a bovine tuberculosis episode as a predictor of future herd breakdowns in Ireland

Olea-Popelka, F.J., White, P.W., Collins, J.D., O'Keeffe, J., Kelton, D.F., Martin, S.W.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2004 v.63 no.3-4 pp. 163-172
bovine tuberculosis, cattle, cohort studies, herds, risk, tuberculin, Ireland
A retrospective cohort study of Irish cattle herds investigated whether the severity of a herd’s bovine tuberculosis (BTB) breakdown was a predictor of the hazard of a future BTB breakdown in that herd. Data on 10,926 herds not having had BTB in 1995 (the “non-exposed” group) were obtained using a 10% random sample from all herds without BTB in 1995. Data on 6757 herds that had a new BTB breakdown in 1995 (the “exposed” group) were obtained and categorized into five increasing exposure-severity classes based on the total number of standard reactors (to the single intra-dermal comparative cervical tuberculin test) detected during the breakdown. Exposed herds were deemed to be free of BTB after they passed a 6-month check test; non-exposed herds were deemed free as of the date of the first negative herd-test in 1995. In the 5 years after 1995, 18% of the non-exposed herds had a BTB breakdown, whereas 31% of the exposed herds had a subsequent breakdown. Relative to the hazard for non-exposed herds, the hazard for the first future singleton standard reactor breakdown, was 1.6-times higher for exposed herds with only 1 standard reactor in 1995, and 1.8-times higher for those exposed herds with 4–8 standard reactors during the 1995 episode. When the outcome for future breakdowns was 2 or more standard reactors, the hazard ratios ranged from 1.6 for exposed herds with only 1 standard reactor in 1995 up to 2.9 in exposed herds with 8 or more standard reactors during the 1995 episode. The latter hazard ratio varied over time, decreasing to 1.7 after 3 years of risk. The hazard of a future BTB breakdown increased directly with number of cattle in the herd, a positive history of previous BTB in the herd, and the local herd prevalence of BTB. The presence of confirmed BTB lesions in reactor cattle was not predictive of the future breakdown hazard when the effects of other factors were controlled.