The Netherlands holds the bovine tuberculosis-free (BTB-free) status according to European Union standards, but in recent years small outbreaks of the infection have occurred. After the last outbreak in 1999 with 10 infected herds the question raised if the current surveillance system, visual inspection of carcasses at the slaughterhouse, is efficient enough to detect infected cattle in time and to maintain the official BTB-free status. Through epidemiological modelling, the risk of a major outbreak is quantified, using one of six surveillance strategies. These are the currently used visual inspection of carcasses at the slaughterhouse (SL), the ELISA test on blood samples of carcasses at the slaughterhouse (ELISA-B), the ¿-interferon test on blood samples of carcasses at the slaughterhouse (GAMMA-B), comparative tuberculination of the herd (CT), the combined method of single and comparative tuberculination of the herd (ST + CT) and the ELISA test on samples of bulk milk (ELISA-M). Test frequency of the last three methods was varied as well. A stochastic individual based model (IBM) was developed to simulate a chain of infected herds, where each individual animal is followed in time. The model mimics the nation-wide situation after the introduction of one infected animal into one herd. BTB-transmission is simulated with an S-E1-E2-I state transition model. Output is time until detection of the infection, prevalence in the detected herd and the number of infected herds at the time of detection. For the assessment 500 simulations were used, representing 500 BTB-introductions. Model robustness to parameter values was analysed with Monte Carlo elasticity analysis, for which 1000 simulations were used. Results of median time until detection and median number of infected farms at detection for SL (302 weeks and seven farms) were in agreement with estimates from an outbreak in the Netherlands in 1999. ELISA-B and GAMMA-B performed better than SL with a much lower median time until detection (189 and 97 weeks, respectively). The results for the tuberculination methods (ST + CT and CT) and ELISA-M depended heavily on the frequency in which the tests were performed. The tuberculination methods ST + CT and CT yield comparable results and detect the infection sooner than SL, also at the lowest tested frequency of once in 5 years. ELISA-M is comparable with SL at frequencies of once in 4 or 5 years, and this test works well at frequencies of once a year or higher. Our study results are used for an economical optimisation analysis of the six surveillance strategies.
- interferon-gamma assay