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  • Publication
    Risk factors for detection of bovine viral diarrhoea virus in low-risk herds during the latter stages of Ireland’s eradication programme
    Background: A national programme to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) has been in place in Ireland since 2013. To inform decision making in the end stages of eradication, and support the development of posteradication surveillance strategies, an understanding of risks of infection in a low prevalence system is required. Methods: A case-control study design was implemented. The study population comprised bovine herds that had calves born and tested negative for BVD virus (BVDV) every year from 2013 to 2019 (n = 46,219 herds). We defined cases as herds which had one or more test positive calves for the first time in 2019 (n = 204). Controls (n = 816) were randomly sampled from the herds which remained test negative in 2019. The effects of herd size, management system, inward movements, including those of potential trojan dams (pregnant animals brought into the herd that could potentially be carrying infected calves in utero), and proximity to herds testing positive in the preceding year, were investigated. Network analysis approaches were used to generate variables measuring connections with test positive herds through inward cattle movements. A generalised linear mixed model, including a county-level random effect, was used to explore these risk factors. Results: Our final model retained ln (herd size) (Odds Ratio (95% CI): 1.72 (1.40, 2.12)), distance from test positive herds (0.54 (0.44, 0.66) for each extra land-parcel boundary crossed to reach the closest herd which tested positive the preceding year), and ln (potential trojan dams + 1) (1.29 (1.05, 1.60)). The same variables were retained in the model where herds with confirmed transient infections only (n = 25) were excluded. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that care with biosecurity at farm boundaries and visitors and equipment entering the farm, and avoidance or careful risk assessment of purchasing potentially pregnant animals, may help prevent introduction of BVDV to low-risk herds. At policy level, consideration of herd size, proximity to test positive herds and purchasing patterns of potentially pregnant cattle may help target surveillance measures towards the end of the eradication programme.