Lungworm Infections in German Dairy Cattle Herds — Seroprevalence and GIS-Supported Risk Factor Analysis
In November 2008, a total of 19,910 bulk tank milk (BTM) samples were obtained from dairy farms from all over Germany, corresponding to about 20% of all German dairy herds, and analysed for antibodies against the bovine lungworm Dictyocaulus viviparus by use of the recombinant MSP-ELISA. A total number of 3,397 (17.1%; n = 19,910) BTM samples tested seropositive. The prevalences in individual German federal states varied between 0.0% and 31.2% positive herds. A geospatial map was drawn to show the distribution of seropositive and seronegative herds per postal code area. ELISA results were further analysed for associations with land-use and climate data. Bivariate statistical analysis was used to identify potential spatial risk factors for dictyocaulosis. Statistically significant positive associations were found between lungworm seropositive herds and the proportion of water bodies and grassed area per postal code area. Variables that showed a statistically significant association with a positive BTM test were included in a logistic regression model, which was further refined by controlled stepwise selection of variables. The low Pseudo R2 values (0.08 for the full model and 0.06 for the final model) and further evaluation of the model by ROC analysis indicate that additional, unrecorded factors (e.g. management factors) or random effects may substantially contribute to lungworm infections in dairy cows. Veterinarians should include lungworms in the differential diagnosis of respiratory disease in dairy cattle, particularly those at pasture. Monitoring of herds through BTM screening for antibodies can help farmers and veterinarians plan and implement appropriate control measures.