In Ireland, new bovine tuberculosis (bTB) cases are detected using both field and abattoir surveillance. During field surveillance, an animal may be deemed a 'standard inconclusive reactor' (SIR) to the single intradermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT) if the bovine response is >2mm, and from 1 to 4mm greater than the avian response. Little is known about the future infection risk posed by SIR animals that pass a subsequent retest, so-called 'transient SIR' (TIR) animals. The objective of this study was to critically evaluate the future bTB status of TIR animals, by examining the future risk of bTB diagnosis over the 4 years following initial SIR diagnosis and clearance at the subsequent retest. The study included all TIRs that were identified as SIRs in 2005 in otherwise free herds at tests with no other reactors at that test and that were clear at the subsequent retest. The analysis was restricted to cows that were neither sold, other than direct to slaughter, nor exported from the herd during the follow up period (to the end of 2009). Five control cows were randomly selected from each study herd. A parametric survival model with shared frailties, to account for clustering within herds, was developed to model time from passing a retest to future bTB diagnosis. The final parametric survival model contained the variables: TIR status in 2005, inconclusive status during the follow-up period, location, herd restricted during the study, time since last restriction within the herd and age. The time ratio for the TIR status variable was significant (p<0.001) indicating that on average the time to diagnosis with bTB for TIRs was 78% shorter compared to the non-TIRs. The frailty term was significant (p<0.001) indicating that animals within some herds were more likely to become reactors compared to other herds. These results have important implications for national policy and future management of TIR animals. Further, private veterinary practitioners and their clients should be aware of the increased risk associated with TIRs.
University College Dublin ->