Analysis of the cattle movement network and its association with the risk of bovine tuberculosis at the farm level in Castilla y Leon, Spain

Pilar Pozo, Kimberly VanderWaal, Anna Grau, Maria Luisa de la Cruz, Jesus Nacar, Javier Bezos, Andres Perez, Olga Minguez, Julio Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Between-farm transmission of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) occurs mostly through fence-to-fence contact between neighbouring farms, endemic infected wildlife or movement of infected animals. Unfortunately, bTB detection is frequently delayed and identification of the source of introduction is often difficult, particularly in endemic regions. Here, we characterized the cattle movement network of Castilla y Leon, a high bTB-prevalence (1.9% at the farm level in 2015) region in Spain, over six years and analysed the distribution of bTB to ultimately assess the likelihood of spatial and movement-mediated transmission. We analysed movement and bTB data from 27,633 units located in the region, of which 87% were involved in ~1.4 million movements of ~8.8 million animals. Network-level connectivity was low, although a few highly connected units were identified. Up to 15% of the herds became bTB-positive at some point during the study, with the highest percentage found in bullfighting and beef herds. Although bTB-positive herds had a significantly higher degree and moved more cattle than negative herds. Results of the k-test, a permutation-based procedure, suggested that positive farms were not significantly clustered in the movement network. Location was a likely risk factor as bTB-positive farms tended to be located within 5 km from each other. Results suggested that movements may be a source of bTB in cattle in Castilla y Leon, although local factors may be more influential in determining risk of disease at the farm level. The description of the movement network in Castilla y Leon may be valuable for bTB surveillance in Spain. Moreover, results are useful to assess the movement-associated risk for multiple diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by the University of Minnesota Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and Global Food Venture MnDrive initiatives, and by the European Social Funds as Pilar Pozo is the recipient of a pre‐doctoral grant of the National Programme for the Promotion of Talent and Its Employability of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO) (DI‐15‐08098). Julio Alvarez is the recipient of a Ramon y Cajal contract from the MINECO (RYC‐2016‐20422).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH


  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • bovine tuberculosis
  • cattle movement
  • pathogen transmission
  • social networks
  • spatial analysis

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