This study evaluated the impact of the Irish herd bovine tuberculosis (bTB) depopulation policy (depopulation, disinfection, contiguous testing and local badger removal where implicated) on the recurrence of bTB infection, by comparing the future risk in restocked herds following depopulation for either bTB or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) during 2003 to 2005. Each herd was assigned a ‘previous bTB risk’, based on bTB history during the five years before depopulation. Future bTB risk was estimated, using a multivariable Cox proportional hazard model for time-to-breakdown for each study herd, to identify risk factors associated with bTB. Future bTB risk varied significantly by reason for depopulation and previous bTB risk. Herds depopulated for bTB (by definition, at high bTB risk) were not significantly different from BSE herds with no or a low previous bTB risk. BSE herds with a high previous bTB risk were found to be at significantly greater future bTB risk. Herd bTB depopulation measures, as currently applied in Ireland, are shown to be effective in enabling herds to attain and retain bTB freedom following restocking. Based on the data presented, and consistent with current knowledge of the bTB epidemiology, local badger removal contributes to efforts to limit recurrence of bTB in Ireland.
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Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed