Objective - To investigate herd characteristics and management practices associated with a high seroprevalence of Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (MAP) in dairy herds in central California. Sample Population - 60 randomly selected cows from each of 21 dairy herds. Procedures - Sera of selected cows were tested for antibodies against MAP by use of an ELISA test kit. Cows with a test sample-to-positive control sample (S:P) ratio of > 0.25 were considered seropositive, and herds with ≥ 4% seropositive cows were considered high-seroprevalence herds. Data on herd characteristics and management practices were collected via interviews with owners. Bayesian logistic regression was used to model the predictive probability of a herd having a high seroprevalence on the basis of various herd characteristics and management practices. Results - 9 of 21 (43%) herds were classified as high-seroprevalence herds. Five variables (history of previous signs of paratuberculosis in the herd, herd size, exposing cattle to water from manure storage lagoons, feeding unsalable milk to calves, and exposing heifers ≤ 6 months old to manure of adult cows) were included in the predictive model on the basis of statistical and biological considerations. In large herds, the predictive probability of a high seroprevalence of MAP infection decreased from 0.74 to 0.39 when management changed from poor to good practices. In small herds, a similar decrease from 0.64 to 0.29 was predicted. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - The seroprevalence of MAP infection in California dairies may be reduced by improvements in herd management practices.
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