ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0634.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Veterinary Medicine Keywords: bovine TB; risk factors; disease control; animal health policy; veterinary epidemiology; evidence-based policy
Online: 28 August 2020 (11:25:31 CEST)
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) outbreaks, caused by Mycobacterium bovis infection, are a costly animal health challenge. Understanding factors associated with the duration of outbreaks, known as breakdowns, could lead to better disease management policy development. We undertook a retrospective observational study (2012-2018) and employed Finite Mixture Models (FMM) to model the outcome parameter, and to investigate how factors were associated with duration for differing subpopulations identified. In addition to traditional risk factors (e.g. herd size, bTB history), we also explored farm geographic area, parcels/farm fragmentation, metrics of intensity via nitrogen loading, and whether herds were designated controlled beef finishing units (CBFU) as potential risk factors for increased duration. The final model fitted log-normal distributions, with two latent classes (k) which partitioned the population into a subpopulation around the central tendency of the distribution, and a second around the tails of the distribution. The latter subpopulation included longer breakdowns of policy interest. Increasing duration was positively associated with recent (<3 yrs) TB history and the number of reactors disclosed, (log) herd size, beef herd-type relative to other herd types, number of land parcels, area, and being designated a controlled finishing unit (“feedlot”), and having high annual inward cattle movements within the “tails” subpopulation. Breakdown length was negatively associated with year of commencement of breakdown (i.e. a decreasing trend) and non-significantly with the organic nitrogen produced on the farm (N kg/hectare), a measure of stocking density. The latter finding may be due to confounding effects with herd size and area. Most variables contributed only moderately to explaining variation in breakdown duration, that is, they had moderate size effects on duration. Herd-size and CBFU had greater effect sizes on the outcome. The findings contribute to evidence-based policy formation in Ireland.