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Modeling Paratuberculosis Transmission in a Small Dairy Herd Typical of Slovenia Suggests That Different Models Should Be Used to Study Disease Spread in Herds of Different Sizes

This study aimed to investigate the possible dynamics of paratuberculosis or Johne’s disease in a typical Slovenian dairy herd of about 17 cows. Paratuberculosis is a worldwide endemic disease of cattle caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) and is associated with significant economic losses. We developed a stochastic compartmental model with two pathways of disease progression, infections of adult cows and infections of young animals through horizontal and vertical transmission, and transmission through animal movements. The average proportions of subclinically and clinically infected cows were 4% and 0.47%, respectively. The prevalence within the herd, which included latently infected animals, averaged 7.13% and ranged from 0% to 70.59%. Under the given circumstances, the results showed a relatively high rate of spontaneous elimination (0.22 per herd per year) of the disease and a high rate of reinfection (0.18 per herd per year) facilitated by active animal trade. To our knowledge, this stochastic compartmental model is the first to be developed specifically to represent a small dairy herd and could apply to other countries with a similar structure of dairy farms. The results suggest that different models should be used to study MAP spread in herds of various sizes.



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