Farm-level risk factors for the occurrence, new infection or persistence of tuberculosis in cattle herds from South-Central Spain

B Martínez-López, J A Barasona, C Gortázar, V Rodríguez-Prieto, J M Sánchez-Vizcaíno, J Vicente
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2014 October 1, 116 (3): 268-78
Eradication of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle is a priority in the EU. However, and despite the resources invested, TB eradication is still a goal yet to be accomplished. As a consequence, the identification of risk factors contributing to TB transmission and persistence is key to a better understand and, ultimately, more cost-effectively control and eradicate this complex zoonotic disease worldwide. This study aimed to identify the factors contributing to the TB occurrence, new infection, and persistence in one of the most TB-prevalent regions in the South-Central part of Spain (SCS), Ciudad Real (CR), and for which high quality and detailed information on cattle and wild ungulate demographics, management, and sanitary status was available for up to 5 years (2007-2011). Multilevel logistic modeling was used for this purpose. Results of this study revealed that the risk for TB (occurrence, new infection, and/or persistence) in cattle herds from CR is related to TB-persistence on farm in previous years, extensive production systems (beef and bullfighting being more risky that dairy) and large farm in terms of cattle number. Also, the presence and proximity of fenced hunting estates (which are usually intensively managed) significantly contributed to the risk of TB occurrence and persistence in CR. This association suggests that wild ungulates may play a role as TB-reservoirs and transmit TB to cattle in the CR, a region where TB is endemic and is associated with extensive farming of beef cattle. To the best of author's knowledge this is the first study to (i) evaluate the wild ungulate-domestic interface at a farm level using detailed information over an extensive region and period of time (2007-2011) and (ii) to identify a direct association between TB in cattle and the proximity and management practices of wild ungulates. Methods and results presented here may support policies to better prevent and control TB in the SCS and in other regions/countries with similar epidemiological conditions.

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