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JOHNE'S disease is a chronic, granulomatous enteritis of ruminants caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). The ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis is individual faecal culture (IFC) of MAP. Johne's disease has been a scheduled and notifiable disease in the Republic of Ireland since 1955. The introduction of the single European market in 1992 facilitated the free movement of animals and goods within the European Union. Between 1992 and 2004, approximately 85,000 cattle (predominantly breeding stock) were imported into Ireland (Barrett and others 2006). Between 1932 and 1992, only 92 cases of Johne's disease were reported to the Irish Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) veterinary laboratory services, while between 1995 and 2002, 232 infected animals were reported (Barrett and others 2006). These observations indicate that the prevalence of Johne's disease in Ireland has increased since the introduction of the single European market. Hence, the recent epidemiology of Johne's disease in Ireland may be different from that in other countries where the disease has been endemic at a higher prevalence for longer.
Although the recent prevalence (Good and others 2009) and economic impact of clinical (Barrett and others 2006) and subclinical (Hoogendam and others 2009) Johne's disease in Irish dairy herds have been reported, there are no published studies examining the risk factors for detection of MAP by IFC in Irish dairy herds. This short communication describes a case-control study aiming to identify the risk factors associated with detection of MAP by IFC in Irish dairy herds.
Case herds (n=86) were defined as herds with one or more IFC-MAP-positive results in the DAFF laboratory database from samples voluntarily submitted by private veterinary practitioners between 1995 and 2007. Control herds (n=125) were defined as herds with no IFC-MAP-positive results in DAFF's laboratory database in the same period and with no ELISA-positive …