Patterns of delayed detection and persistence of bovine tuberculosis in confirmed and unconfirmed herd breakdowns in cattle and cattle herds in Great Britain

L. E. Green*, J. J. Carrique-Mas, S. A. Mason, G. F. Medley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Approximately 1500/6000 cattle farms that were depopulated during the foot and mouth epidemic in GB in 2001 had been repopulated and subjected to two unrestricted (herd considered free from bovine tuberculosis (bTB)) herd tests. Factors associated with herd breakdown(s) (HBD) and individual cattle reactor status at the second test were investigated. There were 96 HBD in total, with a 3-fold increased risk of HBD in herds that had had a HBD at the first test after restocking. Two mixed effect models were used to investigate factors associated with 324/246,060 reactor cattle at the second bTB test; 228 reactors were at confirmed HBD and 96 at unconfirmed HBD; 253 (79%) reactors at the second test were present and test negative at the first test. In confirmed HBD, the odds of cattle reacting were higher if the restocked farm had a history of bTB before 2001 and if the source and restocked farms were high frequency tested (HFT) farms (routine bTB tests at ≥1 per 2 years). Reacting cattle were more likely to have been born on the restocked farm before the first test after FMD and less likely to have been purchased from a low frequency tested (LFT) farm (routine bTB tests at 3-4 year intervals) after the first test compared with a baseline of cattle purchased from a LFT farm before the first test. Unconfirmed HBD at the second test was more likely when the first test was a confirmed HBD and when there was a history of bTB in the restocked farm. In contrast to confirmed HBD, cattle purchased from a LFT farm after the first test were at increased risk of reacting at an unconfirmed HBD at the second test.We conclude that a farm history of bTB suggests persistence of bTB on the farm. Confirmed tests indicate exposure to bTB for some time indicated by the increased risk from HFT source and restocked farms and a farm history of bTB. The risks for reactors are related to the farm and herd and duration of exposure to these risks. Therefore, the spread of bTB to naïve herds would be reduced if farmers only introduced cattle known not to have been in herds and on farms exposed to bTB. Management of bTB on farms with bTB is complicated because there is undisclosed infection in cattle and environmental contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-274
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Alan Aldridge at CTS and Andy Mitchell at VLA for supplying cattle movement and bTB testing data respectively. This research was funded by DEFRA Project Number SE3026.


  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Delayed detection
  • Herd breakdown
  • Persistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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