Simulation model estimates of test accuracy and predictive values for the Danish Salmonella surveillance program in dairy herds

L.D. Warnick, L.R. Nielsen, Jens Nielsen, Matthias Greiner

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The Danish government and cattle industry instituted a Salmonella surveillance program in October 2002 to help reduce Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype Dublin (S. Dublin) infections. All dairy herds are tested by measuring antibodies in bulk tank milk at 3-month intervals. The program is based on a well-established ELISA, but the overall test program accuracy and misclassification was not previously investigated. We developed a model to simulate repeated bulk tank milk antibody measurements for dairy herds conditional on true infection status. The distributions of bulk tank milk antibody measurements for infected and noninfected herds were determined from field study data. Herd infection was defined as having either >= 1 Salmonella culture-positive fecal sample or >= 5% within-herd prevalence based on antibody measurements in serum or milk from individual animals. No distinction was made between Dublin and other Salmonella serotypes which cross-react in the ELISA. The simulation model was used to estimate the accuracy of herd classification for true herd-level prevalence values ranging from 0.02 to 0.5. Test program sensitivity was 0.95 across the range of prevalence values evaluated. Specificity was inversely related to prevalence and ranged from 0.83 to 0.98. For a true herd-level infection prevalence of 15%, the estimate for specificity (Sp) was 0.96. Also at the 15% herd-level prevalence, approximately 99% of herds classified as negative in the program would be truly noninfected and 80% of herds classified as positive would be infected. The predictive values were consistent with the primary goal of the surveillance program which was to have confidence that herds classified negative would be free of Salmonella infection.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
    Issue number3-4
    Pages (from-to)284-303
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • dairy cattle
    • test misclassification
    • surveillance
    • Salmonella


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