Intramammary infections (IMI) in dairy cattle lead to economic losses for farmers, both through reduced milk production and disease control measures. We present the first strain-, cow- and herd-specific bio-economic simulation model of intramammary infections in a dairy cattle herd. The model can be used to investigate the cost-effectiveness of different prevention and control strategies against IMI. The objective of this study was to describe a transmission framework, which simulates spread of IMI causing pathogens through different transmission modes. These include the traditional contagious and environmental spread and a new opportunistic transmission mode. In addition, the within-herd transmission dynamics of IMI causing pathogens were studied. Sensitivity analysis was conducted to investigate the influence of input parameters on model predictions. The results show that the model is able to represent various within-herd levels of IMI prevalence, depending on the simulated pathogens and their parameter settings. The parameters can be adjusted to include different combinations of IMI causing pathogens at different prevalence levels, representing herd-specific situations. The model is most sensitive to varying the transmission rate parameters and the strain-specific recovery rates from IMI. It can be used for investigating both short term operational and long term strategic decisions for the prevention and control of IMI in dairy cattle herds.
- Mathematical model