Paratuberculosis (PTB) is a chronic disease which may lead to reduced milk yield, lower animal welfare and death in cattle. The causative agent is Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). The economic consequences are particularly important incentives in the control and eradication of the infection. One strategy to control PTB in a herd is to purchase animals from farms with a low risk of MAP infection. We wanted to investigate the epidemiological and economic consequences of buying livestock from different supplier farms of low, medium or high risk, as well as farms with unknown status. We also wanted to estimate the probability of spontaneous fadeout if the farmer of an initially MAP-free herd bought a specified number of infected animals in a single year, or continually bought infected animals. This was achieved through simulation modeling, and the effects of consistently introducing one, five or ten infected animals annually into an initially infection-free herd was also modeled. Our findings show that once infected, a farm can relatively safely purchase animals from other low and medium-risk farms without experiencing an increase in the prevalence, highlighting the importance of certification programmes. Furthermore, farms free of MAP are highly susceptible and cannot purchase more than a small number of animals per year without having a high risk of being infected. The probability of spontaneous fadeout after 10 years was 82% when introducing a single infected animal into an initially MAP-free herd. When purchasing ten infected animals, this probability was 46%. The continual purchase of infected animals resulted in very low probabilities of spontaneous fadeout. We demonstrated that MAP-free farms can purchase a small number of animals, preferably from certified farms, each year and still remain free of MAP. Already infected farms have little risk of increasing the prevalence on a farm when purchasing animals from other farms.
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Kirkeby, C. T., Græsbøll, K., Nielsen, S. S., Toft, N., & Halasa, T. (2017). Epidemiological and economic consequences of purchasing livestock infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis. B M C Veterinary Research, 13, . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-017-1119-z