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Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an important notifiable disease in cattle in Great Britain (GB), and is subject to statutory control measures. Despite this, disease incidence has increased since the mid-1980s, and around 30% of herd breakdowns continue for more than 240 days. This is twice the shortest possible time for confirmed breakdowns to test clear from infection (≈120 days), and four times the shortest possible time for unconfirmed breakdowns (≈60 days). These "prolonged" breakdowns consume substantial resources and may act as an ongoing source of infection. It is not clear why some breakdowns become prolonged. Existing detailed case-control data have been re-analysed to determine risk factors for breakdowns lasting longer than 240 days, the strongest of which was the confirmation status of the breakdown: OR 12.6 (95%CI: 6.7-25.4). A further model restricted to data available early on in a breakdown for all breakdowns nationally, can predict 82-84% of prolonged breakdowns with a positive predictive value of 44-49% when validated using existing national datasets over a 4-year period. Identification of prolonged breakdowns at an earlier stage could help to target bTB controls in GB.

Original publication




Journal article


Preventive veterinary medicine

Publication Date





183 - 190


Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, CB3 0ES, UK.


Animals, Cattle, Tuberculosis, Bovine, Recurrence, Sentinel Surveillance, Incidence, Risk Factors, Case-Control Studies, Predictive Value of Tests, Disease Outbreaks, Models, Biological, Time Factors, Forecasting, Female, Male, United Kingdom