A nested compartmental model to assess the efficacy of paratuberculosis control measures on U.S. Dairy farms

Malinee Konboon, Majid Bani-Yaghoub, Patrick O. Pithua, Noah Rhee, Sharif S Aly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Paratuberculosis, also known as Johne's disease (JD), is a chronic contagious disease, caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). The disease is incurable, fatal and causes economic losses estimated to exceed 200 million dollars to the U.S. dairy industry annually. Several preventive and control measures have been recommended; however, only a few of these measures have been validated empirically. Using a nested compartmental (NC) modeling approach, the main objective of this research was to identify the best combination of control and preventive measures that minimizes the prevalence and incidence of JD and the risk of MAP occurrence in a dairy herd. The NC model employs both MAP transmission estimates and data on pen movement of cattle on a dairy to quantify the effectiveness of control and preventive measures. To obtain reasonable ranges of parameter values for between-pen movements, the NC model was fitted to the movement data of four typical California dairy farms. Using the estimated ranges of the movement parameters and those of JD from previous research, the basic reproduction number was calculated to measure the risk of MAP occurrence in each pen environment as well as the entire dairy. Although the interventions evaluated by the NC model were shown to reduce the infection, no single measure alone was capable of eradicating the infection. The numerical simulations suggest that a combination of test and cull with more frequent manure removal is the most effective method in reducing incidence, prevalence and the risk of MAP occurrence. Other control measures such as limiting calf-adult cow contacts, raising calves in a disease-free herd or colostrum management were less effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0203190
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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