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Veterinary experiences of a Johne’s disease control programme in Ireland
  1. Catherine Devitt1,
  2. David A Graham2,
  3. Joe O’Flaherty2,
  4. Sam Strain3 and
  5. Lorna Citer2
  1. 1 UCD Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Animal Health Ireland, Carrick on Shannon, Leitrim, Ireland
  3. 3 Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland, Animal Health Ireland, Dungannon, Northern Ireland
  1. E-mail for correspondence; catherine.devitt{at}ucd.ie

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Introduction

Paratuberculosis, or Johne’s disease (JD), is a serious condition of cattle and sheep and can negatively impact herd health and farm productivity. The private veterinary practitioner (PVP) is considered an important source of information for farmers on disease control generally.1–3 Although herd PVPs may actively engage with their clients on JD control strategies, the effectiveness of this engagement and the potential for compliance with control measures can be undermined by a lack of PVP training and confidence in specific JD epidemiology.4 5 A number of countries including Canada, the UK and the Netherlands currently have JD control programmes that involve PVP training and direct farmer engagement, and in which on-farm risk assessment forms a central component.6 There is considerable heterogeneity between these programmes.6 Nevertheless, where a formal control programme is in place, it is essential that a herd’s PVP supports its aims and the approach taken, recognises the necessity of acting on risk-assessment outcomes and is capable of communicating and articulating management recommendations to the farmer.7 (Sorge and others 2010)

In October 2013, Animal Health Ireland (AHI) initiated a JD Pilot Dairy Control Programme that ran until December 2016. The Pilot programme comprised herd screening, annual on-farm risk assessments conducted by an approved PVP leading to an agreed management plan and the future development of a framework to enable herd categorisation which either (1) quantified the level of confidence that any given herd participating in the programme with negative test results was truly free of infection or (2) reflected the level of infection in infected herds.8 9

The overarching aim of this Pilot Programme was to test, evaluate and refine the various programme components, including data handling, diagnostic and on-farm advisory elements that would be required to support a future, extended JD control programme …

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