Development of the Dutch Johne's disease control program supported by a simulation model

H. Groenendaal, M. Nielen, J.W. Hesselink

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The development of a simulation model, "JohneSSim", was part of a research program aimed at designing a national Johne's disease control program for The Netherlands. Initially, the focus was mainly directed towards different compulsory "test-and-cull" strategies. However, the results from the JohneSSim model showed that eradication of Johne's disease based on such strategies would not be possible within 20 years and that it was also economically unattractive. However, improved calf management seemed to be more effective in reducing the prevalence within the same time period. Simulation of a strategy using an "ideal test" (80% sensitivity in all infected animals) showed a considerably faster decrease in prevalence. However, this strategy proved to be economically unattractive because of the high culling rate of (young) test-positive animals. The simulation model was also adapted to study beef cow herds. However, the results indicated that none of the strategies were able to reduce the mean true prevalence to almost zero for such herds. Only strategies based on "separation of calves and adult animals" proved to significantly reduce the prevalence but such a strategy is unpractical and uneconomic for Dutch beef cow herds. Due to this finding and the relative low number of Dutch beef cow farms, first priority has been given to the development of a Johne's disease control program for dairy farms. Based on the results of the "JohneSSim" model, the new national voluntary Johne's disease control program for dairy, Paratuberculosis Program Netherlands (PPN), started in September 2000. The PPN is based on a stepwise improvement of calf hygiene, with little dependency on "test and culling". The model results indicated that, if dairy farmers consistently carried out the necessary management adaptations, PPN considerably decreased prevalence and that it was economically more attractive than any previous plans
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-90
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Cattle
  • Control program
  • Decision-support
  • Johne's disease
  • Simulation model


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