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The advisability of evaluating the local impact of climate on herd bovine tuberculosis (bTB) occurrence has arisen due to recent climatic changes, manifested by more extreme weather events and changeable weather conditions, including changes in temperature, rainfall and vapour pressure deficit (VPD, a measure of atmospheric dryness) (Walsh 2012). Despite many studies on risk factors for herd bTB occurrence, there has been limited work evaluating the influence of weather variables. Wint and others (2002), Gilbert and others (2005) both over all of Great Britain, and Pfeiffer and others (2008, pp 86–88), in a region in southwest England found an association between the environmental variables atmospheric temperature and VPD with herd bTB occurrence, but no biological explanation was offered. In these studies, environmental variables were derived from remotely sensed data, rainfall variables were not included in the studies, and large numbers of explanatory variables were used sometimes on relatively small datasets. In this study, we conducted a preliminary evaluation of the influence of weather variables on bTB incidence in cattle herds together with well- established risk factors from 2005 to 2009 in the area of west county Wicklow (WW) in the east of Ireland.
Complete data were obtained on herd- and animal-level bTB testing history from the Animal Health Computer System (AHCS), land usage from Herdfinder (each maintained by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, DAFM), and weather from Met Éireann for the period 2005–2009 at the time of study The area was chosen mainly as it has variation in weather, and herd bTB incidence was similar to the national average for the period under study.
All herds registered …