Cost-benefit analysis of vaccination against Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis in dairy cattle, given its cross-reactivity with tuberculosis tests

Huybert Groenendaal, Francisco J. Zagmutt, Elisabeth A. Patton, Scott J. Wells

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27 Scopus citations


Johne's disease (JD), or paratuberculosis, is a chronic enteric disease of ruminants, caused by infection with Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP). Johne's disease causes considerable economic losses to the US dairy industry, estimated to be over $200 million annually. Available control strategies include management measures to improve calf hygiene, test-and-cull strategies, and vaccination. Although the first 2 strategies have shown to reduce the prevalence of MAP, they require dedicated and long-term efforts from dairy producers, with often relatively slow progress. As a result, uptake of both strategies has not been as wide as expected given the economic benefits especially of improved hygiene. Vaccination has also been found to reduce the prevalence and economic losses of JD, but most economic estimates have been based on simulation of hypothetical vaccines. In addition, if an animal is vaccinated, cross-reactivity between MAP antibodies and bovine tuberculosis (BTB) antigens may occur, decreasing the specificity of BTB tests. Therefore, MAP vaccination would cause additional indirect costs to the BTB surveillance and control program. The objective of the present study was to use data from a MAP vaccine trial together with an epidemiologic and economic model to estimate the direct on-farm benefits of MAP vaccination and to estimate the indirect costs of MAP vaccination due to the cross-reactivity with BTB tests. Direct economic benefits of MAP vaccination were estimated at $8.03 (90% predictive interval: -$25.97 to $41.36) per adult animal per year, all accruing to the dairy producers. This estimate is likely an underestimation of the true direct benefits of MAP vaccination. In addition, indirect economic costs due to cross-reactivity were $2.14 per adult animal per year, making MAP vaccination economically attractive. Only in regions or states with a high frequency of BTB testing (because of, for example, Mycobacterium bovis outbreaks in a wild deer population) and areas where typically small groups of animals are BTB tested would MAP vaccination not be economically attractive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6070-6084
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge funding provided by USDA-CSREES award number 2008-37610-19540 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Dairy Science Association.


  • Bovine tuberculosis program
  • Cross-reactivity
  • Economic analysis
  • Johne's disease
  • Vaccination


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