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The incidence of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Great Britain has generally been increasing in recent decades. Routine ante-mortem testing of cattle herds is required for disease surveillance and control, due to the asymptomatic nature of the infection. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) publishes TB incidence trends as the percentage of officially TB-free (OTF) herds tested per month with OTF status withdrawn due to post-mortem evidence of infection. This method can result in artefactual fluctuations. We have previously demonstrated an alternative method, that distributes incidents equally over the period of risk, provides a more accurate representation of underlying risk. However, this method is complex and it may not be sufficiently straightforward for use in the national statistics. Here we present a simple incidence-based method that adjusts for the time between tests and show it can provide a reasonable representation of the underlying risk without artefactual fluctuations.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS currents

Publication Date





Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, London, UK.