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Persistent paratuberculosis infection in cattle associated with a high prevalence in rabbits

L. J. Shaughnessy, L. A. Smith, J. Evans, D. Anderson, G. Caldow, G. Marion, J. C. Low, M. R. Hutchings

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of Johne's disease, which causes significant economic losses in the farming industry worldwide. The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a known wildlife carrier of MAP and rabbits can shed large amounts of the bacterium in their faeces, which can then be consumed by cattle. This study aimed to assess whether farms that had more difficulties in controlling MAP also had a higher prevalence of MAP infection in local rabbit populations than herds in which MAP was well controlled.

Thirteen beef farms in Scotland were included in the study. Farms were categorised as being either ‘responder’ farms, on which Johne's disease seroprevalence reduced rapidly after MAP control measures were introduced; or ‘low-responders’, on which MAP seroprevalence remained above 5 per cent despite the implementation of control measures. Of the 13 farms included in the study, six were responder farms and seven were …

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