Spatially explicit modeling of animal tuberculosis at the wildlife-livestock interface in Ciudad Real province, Spain

Nathaniel P LaHue, Joaquín Vicente Baños, Pelayo Acevedo, Christian Gortázar, Beatriz Martínez-López
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2016 June 1, 128: 101-11
Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) are the most important wildlife reservoirs for animal tuberculosis (TB) caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC), in Mediterranean Spain. These species are considered to play an important role in the transmission and persistence of MTC in cattle in some regions; however the factors contributing to the risk of transmission at the wildlife-livestock interface and the areas at highest risk for such transmission are largely unknown. This study sought to identify geographic areas where wildlife-livestock interactions are most likely to occur and to characterize the environmental and management factors at this interface contributing to persistence, incidence, and occurrence of TB on cattle farms, in one of the provinces with higher TB prevalence in Spain, Ciudad Real. We used spatially explicit, ecological niche models to evaluate the importance of factors such as wildlife demographics and hunting management, land use, climatic, and environmental variables as well as TB status in wildlife for TB breakdown (model 1), persistence (model 2) and new infection (model 3) on cattle farms and to generate high resolution maps of predicted TB occurrence to guide risk-based interventions. Models revealed that land use, particularly open area and woodland, high wild boar TB prevalence, and close proximity to fenced hunting estates were the most important factors associated with TB infection on cattle farms. This is the first time that local TB prevalence in wild boar for individual hunting estates has been significantly associated with TB occurrence on cattle farms at a local scale. Prediction maps identified two areas with high likelihood of TB occurrence in the southwest and northwest of the province where wildlife-livestock interactions and TB occurrence are highly likely and where TB preventative and mitigation strategies (e.g. targeted vaccination, increased biosecurity, etc.) should be prioritized. Methods and results of this study were aimed to inform the implementation of risk-based interventions to better prevent and control TB at the wildlife-livestock interface, a necessary step for the successful eradication of TB in cattle in Spain.

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