There has been a national bovine tuberculosis (bTB) eradication programme (BTBEP) in Ireland for many years. All cattle herds are tested at least annually using the Single Intradermal Comparative Tuberculin Test (SICTT). Further, abattoir surveillance is conducted on all animals at the time of slaughter. In the Irish BTBEP, a substantial number of confirmed bTB lesions are detected in non-reactor animals, to SICTT, from Officially Tuberculosis Free (OTF) herds at slaughter. In this study we investigate risk factors for non-reactor animals from OTF herds presenting with a confirmed bTB lesion at slaughter, but with no evidence of within-herd transmission. A case-control study was conducted, with animal as the unit of interest. The case animals were all SICTT non-reactor animals slaughtered in 2012, with a confirmed bTB lesion identified during routine abattoir surveillance and with no evidence of within-herd transmission. Control animals were selected from all SICTT non-reactor animals slaughtered in 2012 from OTF herds where no bTB lesion was found. Four controls matched by age (±1 year) and location (county) were randomly selected for each case. A conditional logistic regression model was developed for univariable and multivariable analysis. The final multivariable model included: number of movements, herd type, herd-size, inconclusive reactor status at any previous test, abattoir and time spent in a herd restricted for bTB. The odds of being a case increased with the number of times an animal had moved herds. Animals from suckler herds were significantly more likely to be a case compared to those from beef herds. The odds of being a case decreased with herd-size and increased as the time spent in a restricted herd increased. There were three key conclusions from this study. Firstly, the main risk factors for animals presenting with a confirmed bTB lesion at slaughter were: previous bTB exposure history, previous inconclusive reactor result at the SICTT, the number of herd movements and herd type/size. Secondly, there was very limited evidence that these animals could have been detected any earlier. Finally, there is a need to reconsider the importance of abattoir surveillance during the latter stages of an eradication campaign. As herd prevalence declines, an increasing proportion of herd restrictions will be triggered by a single bTB-lesioned animal, with no evidence of within-herd transmission.
University College Dublin ->