Open Access Research

Predicting fadeout versus persistence of paratuberculosis in a dairy cattle herd for management and control purposes: a modelling study

Clara Marcé123, Pauline Ezanno12*, Henri Seegers12, Dirk Udo Pfeiffer3 and Christine Fourichon12

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR1300 Bio-agression, Epidémiologie et Analyse de Risque en santé animale, BP 40706, 44307 Nantes, France

2 ONIRIS, UNAM Université Nantes Angers Le Mans, France

3 Veterinary Epidemiology & Public Health Division, Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hatfield AL9 7TA, Hertfordshire, UK

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Veterinary Research 2011, 42:36  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-42-36

Published: 15 February 2011


Epidemiological models enable to better understand the dynamics of infectious diseases and to assess ex-ante control strategies. For Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map), possible transmission routes have been described, but Map spread in a herd and the relative importance of the routes are currently insufficiently understood to prioritize control measures. We aim to predict early after Map introduction in a dairy cattle herd whether infection is likely to fade out or persist, when no control measures are implemented, using a modelling approach. Both vertical transmission and horizontal transmission via the ingestion of colostrum, milk, or faeces present in the contaminated environment were modelled. Calf-to-calf indirect transmission was possible. Six health states were represented: susceptible, transiently infectious, latently infected, subclinically infected, clinically affected, and resistant. The model was partially validated by comparing the simulated prevalence with field data. Housing facilities and contacts between animals were specifically considered for calves and heifers. After the introduction of one infected animal in a naive herd, fadeout occurred in 66% of the runs. When Map persisted, the prevalence of infected animals increased to 88% in 25 years. The two main transmission routes were via the farm's environment and in utero transmission. Calf-to-calf transmission was minor. Fadeout versus Map persistence could be differentiated with the number of clinically affected animals, which was rarely above one when fadeout occurred. Therefore, early detection of affected animals is crucial in preventing Map persistence in dairy herds.