Dilution effect in bovine tuberculosis: risk factors for regional disease occurrence in Africa

Z. Huang, W.F. de Boer, F. van Langevelde, C. Xu, K. Ben Jebara, F. Berlingieri, H.H.T. Prins

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in host diversity have been postulated to influence the risk of infectious diseases, including both dilution and amplification effects. The dilution effect refers to a negative relationship between biodiversity and disease risk, whereas the amplification effect occurs when biodiversity increases disease risk. We tested these effects with an influential disease, bovine tuberculosis (BTB), which is widespread in many countries, causing severe economic losses. Based on the BTB outbreak data in cattle from 2005 to 2010, we also tested, using generalized linear mixed models, which other factors were associated with the regional BTB presence in cattle in Africa. The inter-dependencies of predictors and their correlations with BTB presence were examined using path analysis. Our results suggested a dilution effect, where increased mammal species richness was associated with reduced probability of BTB presence after adjustment for cattle density. In addition, our results also suggested that areas with BTB infection in the preceding year, higher cattle density and larger percentage of area occupied by African buffalo were more likely to report BTB outbreaks. Climatic variables only indirectly influenced the risk of BTB presence through their effects on cattle density and wildlife distribution. Since most studies investigating the role of wildlife species on BTB transmission only involve single-species analysis, more efforts are needed to better understand the effect of the structure of wildlife communities on BTB dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130624
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1765
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • mycobacterium-bovis
  • great-britain
  • cattle
  • transmission
  • biodiversity
  • diversity
  • wildlife
  • epidemiology
  • populations
  • community

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