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Comparison of disease control strategies in different farming systems across Europe

The quantitative models were used to assess the potential impact of control practices in different EU-production systems, using transmission parameters obtained from the literature. For each production system simulations for time periods of 30 years following the introduction of 1 infected animal were done.

The initial prevalence of Map in wildlife was set at 17% and the average time between the beginning of clinical signs and the culling of a clinically infected animal was 3 months.

Using these specifications, the expected within herd prevalences after the 30 year period were for a dairy farm in East Scotland 25.7%, for a beef suckler herd in East Scotland 35.1%, for a dairy farm in the Czech Republic 46.2%, for a beef suckler herd in the Czech Republic 1.1%, for a dairy farm in Greece 4.7% and for a bullfighting farm in Spain 40.3%. No change in the prevalence was predicted in most countries if the only measure was total control of wildlife infection.

The reduction of the average time between the beginning of clinical signs and the culling of a clinically infected animal by a month greatly reduced the expected prevalence in most countries.

Although there was considerable heterogeneity across production systems with respect to the within-herd dynamics of Map infection, the largest benefits in terms of disease control were obtained by reducing the time a clinically infected animal remains in the production group.

Therefore our results support the strategic use of diagnostic tests and culling decisions that minimize the time a highly infectious animal remains in the herd.

The other group of strategies that should be prioritized were those aimed at reducing the risk profile of the farm by improving neonatal management and hygiene. Preventing livestock to livestock Map transmission must be the priority in any disease control strategy however, wildlife to livestock transmission should also be targeted especially where wildlife species represent a significant source of environmental contamination and the farming system results in high levels of livestock exposure to Map in wildlife.

The combination of field studies and modelling suggest that the livestock systems most at risk from Map in wildlife are Scottish cattle systems where livestock have high levels of exposure to Map from rabbits and Greek small ruminant systems using common grazing that are exposed to Map from rodents contaminating farm stored feed. Individual holdings of livestock using the same grazing resource may in epidemiological terms be seen as a single larger herd as any transmission event from wildlife to livestock can then be transmitted to any other animal using the grazing resource.

In contrast Dutch dairy systems operating zero-grazing management regimes are at least risk from Map in wildlife as livestock exposure to environmental sources of contamination are greatly restricted.

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School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly
224 Trikalon
43100 Karditsa
Greece
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