Bovine tuberculosis: Within-herd transmission models to support and direct the decision-making process

Julio Álvarez, Javier Bezos, Maria Luisa de la Cruz, Carmen Casal, Beatriz Romero, Lucas Domínguez, Lucía de Juan, Andrés Pérez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Use of mathematical models to study the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases is becoming increasingly common in veterinary sciences. However, modeling chronic infectious diseases such as bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is particularly challenging due to the substantial uncertainty associated with the epidemiology of the disease. Here, the methodological approaches used to model bTB and published in the peer-reviewed literature in the last decades were reviewed with a focus on the impact that the models' assumptions may have had on their results, such as the assumption of density vs. frequency-dependent transmission, the existence of non-infectious and non-detectable stages, and the effect of extrinsic sources of infection (usually associated with wildlife reservoirs). Although all studies suggested a relatively low rate of within-herd transmission of bTB when test-and-cull programs are in place, differences in the estimated length of the infection stages, sensitivity and specificity of the tests used and probable type of transmission (density or frequency dependent) were observed. Additional improvements, such as exploring the usefulness of contact-networks instead of assuming homogeneous mixing of animals, may help to build better models that can help to design, evaluate and monitor control and eradication strategies against bTB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S61-S68
JournalResearch in veterinary science
Issue numberS
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2013-67015-21244 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Diagnosis
  • Eradication
  • Modeling
  • Within-herd transmission


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