Optimal surveillance strategies for bovine tuberculosis in a low-prevalence country

Kimberly VanderWaal, Eva A. Enns, Catalina Picasso, Julio Alvarez, Andres Perez, Federico Fernandez, Andres Gil, Meggan Craft, Scott Wells

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30 Scopus citations


Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a chronic disease of cattle that is difficult to control and eradicate in part due to the costly nature of surveillance and poor sensitivity of diagnostic tests. Like many countries, bTB prevalence in Uruguay has gradually declined to low levels due to intensive surveillance and control efforts over the past decades. In low prevalence settings, broad-based surveillance strategies based on routine testing may not be the most cost-effective way for controlling between-farm bTB transmission, while targeted surveillance aimed at high-risk farms may be more efficient for this purpose. To investigate the efficacy of targeted surveillance, we developed an integrated within-and between-farm bTB transmission model utilizing data from Uruguay's comprehensive animal movement database. A genetic algorithm was used to fit uncertain parameter values, such as the animal-level sensitivity of skin testing and slaughter inspection, to observed bTB epidemiological data. Of ten alternative surveillance strategies evaluated, a strategy based on eliminating testing in low-risk farms resulted in a 40% reduction in sampling effort without increasing bTB incidence. These results can inform the design of more cost-effective surveillance programs to detect and control bTB in Uruguay and other countries with low bTB prevalence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4140
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

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© 2017 The Author(s).


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