A review of prevalences of paratuberculosis in farmed animals in Europe

Søren Saxmose Nielsen, Nils Toft

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Prevalence estimates are used by decision makers such as policy makers and risk assessors to make choices related to certain diseases and infections. Paratuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP), is a chronic infection particularly resulting in economic losses among farmed ruminants. Therefore, this infection is of concern for many farming industry decision makers. As a result, multiple studies have been carried out to determine the within-herd and between-herd prevalence of MAP infections. The objective of the present study was to conduct a review and, if possible, compare animal and herd level prevalences of MAP among farmed animals in Europe.

European data on prevalences of MAP in all farmed animal species were included from a review of literature. Information on target population and study design, tests used and apparent prevalences were recorded, and subsequently true prevalences were calculated when possible. A critical review of the included studies indicated that although a wide range of studies have been conducted, likely and comparable true prevalence estimates could rarely be calculated. Based on a few studies where the prevalences appeared to be plausible, it was concluded that prevalences of MAP would have to be guesstimates based on available data. The true prevalence among cattle appeared to be approximately 20% and was at least 3–5% in several countries. Between-herd prevalence guesstimates appeared to be >50%. No countries had published sufficient information to claim freedom from MAP or just a near-zero prevalence of MAP infections. No within-flock prevalence estimates were available for goats and sheep. The between-flock prevalence guesstimates were >20%, based only on estimates from Switzerland and Spain.

Major critical issues were identified in the majority of the studies, primarily due to lack of knowledge of the test accuracy of the diagnostic test used, or due to studies where the study population did not reflect the target population. Because most of the reported studies did not yield prevalence estimates which were comparable to other studies, there is a continuing need for well-designed studies of the prevalence of MAP infections.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cattle
  • Europe
  • Goats
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis
  • Prevalence
  • Sheep


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of prevalences of paratuberculosis in farmed animals in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this