Mathematical models of Neospora caninum infection in dairy cattle: Transmission and options for control

Nigel P. French, Damian Clancy, Helen Davison, Alexander Trees

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The transmission and control of Neospora caninum infection in dairy cattle was examined using deterministic and stochastic models. Parameter estimates were derived from recent studies conducted in the UK and from the published literature. Three routes of transmission were considered: maternal vertical transmission with a high probability (0.95), horizontal transmission from infected cattle within the herd, and horizontal transmission from an independent external source. Putative infection via pooled colostrum was used as an example of within-herd horizontal transmission, and the recent finding that the dog is a definitive host of N. caninum supported the inclusion of an external independent source of infection. The predicted amount of horizontal transmission required to maintain infection at levels commonly observed in field studies in the UK and elsewhere, was consistent with that observed in studies of post-natal seroconversion (0.85-9.0 per 100 cow-years). A stochastic version of the model was used to simulate the spread of infection in herds of 100 cattle, with a mean infection prevalence similar to that observed in UK studies (around 20%). The distributions of infected and uninfected cattle corresponded closely to Normal distributions, with S.D.s of 6.3 and 7.0, respectively. Control measures were considered by altering birth, death and horizontal transmission parameters. A policy of annual culling of infected cattle very rapidly reduced the prevalence of infection, and was shown to be the most effective method of control in the short term. Not breeding replacements from infected cattle was also effective in the short term, particularly in herds with a higher turnover of cattle. However, the long-term effectiveness of these measures depended on the amount and source of horizontal infection. If the level of within-herd transmission was above a critical threshold, then a combination of reducing within-herd, and blocking external sources of transmission was required to permanently eliminate infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1704
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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