The objective of this prospective longitudinal field study was to describe changes in prevalence of seroconversion and fecal shedding and changes in incidence rate of seroconversion, fecal shedding and culling of milk cows for clinical signs of Johne's disease (JD) in six Minnesota (USA) herds participating to the JD Demonstration Herd Project (JDDHP) from 2000 to December 2005. Changes in prevalence and incidence rate were evaluated in light of the owner's compliance to the JDDHP using a risk assessment (RA) score. Adult cows were tested regularly using serum ELISA and bacterial fecal culture to evaluate progress made throughout the control program. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between the risk for a cow to test positive and the year on the program. After 5 years of follow-up, the proportion of cows that tested positive to serum ELISA and fecal culture (all positive cultures as well as moderate to heavy shedders only) decreased significantly from the first to the last year (8-3.1%, 10.4-5.6% and 3.1-1.5%, respectively). Cox proportional hazards regression was used to evaluate change of incidence rate across birth cohorts. Birth cohorts were defined by birth date of the animals with the reference cohort or oldest cohort being already 12-24 months of age at the onset of the long-term management program. All cohorts were censored at 45 months of age. Compared to cows from the reference cohort, cows from cohorts that could have benefitted from the JDDHP in their young age (less than 12 months of age at the start of the program or born later) were significantly less at risk of seroconversion and fecal shedding (hazard ratios for seroconversion, any fecal shedding and heavy shedding less than 0.63, 0.67 and 0.62, respectively). For the three herds achieving good management changes with a risk assessment score under 30 at their last year of the study, the cohorts that were born after the program was instituted did better than those born before the start of the program, implying that the program could have helped around birth as well for those herds. This study suggests that reduction of environmental contamination of heifers up to a year of age may have had some impact on the success of the program. The JDDHP appears more beneficial for herds achieving a better reduction of their RA score with a decrease risk for infection in very young calves.
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We would like to thank the herd owners and employees for their participation, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health district veterinarians and staff for on-going support to demonstration herds, Dr. Sue Duval of the School of Public Health for her help with statistical analyses, the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for diagnostic testing, and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services, and the Johne’s Disease Integrated Project funded by the USDA-CSREES CGP for funding and support of this study, as part of the National Johne’s Disease Demonstration Herd Project.
- Control program
- Dairy cow
- Johne's disease