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Herd-level prevalence of selected endemic infectious diseases of dairy cows in Great Britain

Velasova, M; Damaso, A; Chengat Prakashbabu, B; Gibbons, J; Wheelhouse, N; Longbottom, D; Van Winden, S C L; Green, M; Guitian, J


M Velasova

A Damaso

B Chengat Prakashbabu

J Gibbons

N Wheelhouse

D Longbottom

S C L Van Winden

M Green

J Guitian


To implement appropriate and effective disease control programs at the national level, up-to-date and unbiased information on disease frequency is needed. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of selected endemic infectious diseases in the population of dairy herds in Great Britain. Bulk milk tank (BMT) samples from 225 randomly selected dairy farms, stratified by region and herd size, were tested for antibodies against bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), bovine herpesvirus type 1, Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis, Leptospira Hardjo, Salmonella spp., Coxiella burnetii, Fasciola hepatica, Neospora caninum, and Ostertagia ostertagi. Furthermore, the presence of BVDV, C. burnetii, and Chlamydia-like organisms was determined by PCR. The apparent herd prevalence was estimated as a weighted proportion of positive herds. The true prevalence was calculated when a test was used with known test characteristics for the cut-off value used. Among unvaccinated herds, the true prevalence of BMT antibodies against BVDV was estimated at 66% [95% confidence interval (CI): 56–77%], M. avium ssp. paratuberculosis 68% (95% CI: 59–77%), bovine herpesvirus type 1 62% (95% CI: 52–73%), Leptospira Hardjo 47% (95% CI: 34–60%), and Salmonella spp. 48% (95% CI: 39–56%). The apparent prevalence of BMT antibodies against C. burnetii was 80% (95% CI: 75–85%), F. hepatica 55% (95% CI: 48–62%), N. caninum 46% (95% CI: 38–54%), and O. ostertagi 95% (95% CI: 91–98%). The BVDV, C. burnetii, and Chlamydia-like antigens were detected in 5 (95% CI: 2–9%), 29 (95% CI: 21–36%), and 31% (95% CI: 24–38%) of herds, respectively. Our results show that dairy cows across GB are frequently exposed to the studied pathogens, which are endemic at high levels with some geographical variations. These prevalence estimates provide a much-needed basis to assess whether nationwide control programs for the studied pathogens are justified by their potential economic, environmental, and public health implications. Should surveillance and control programs be initiated, the estimates presented here are a baseline against which progress can be assessed.


Velasova, M., Damaso, A., Chengat Prakashbabu, B., Gibbons, J., Wheelhouse, N., Longbottom, D., …Guitian, J. (2017). Herd-level prevalence of selected endemic infectious diseases of dairy cows in Great Britain. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(11), 9215-9233.

Journal Article Type Other
Acceptance Date May 14, 2017
Publication Date Nov 1, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 30, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 30, 2017
Print ISSN 0022-0302
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 100
Issue 11
Pages 9215-9233
Public URL