Economic analysis of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis vaccines in dairy herds

J. Cho, L. W. Tauer, Y. H. Schukken, M. I. Gómez, R. L. Smith, Z. Lu, Y. T. Grohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Johne's disease, or paratuberculosis, is a chronic infectious enteric disease of ruminants, caused by infection with Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP). Given the absence of a fail-safe method of prevention or a cure, Johne's disease can inflict significant economic loss on the US dairy industry, with an estimated annual cost of over $200 million. Currently available MAP control strategies include management measures to improve hygiene, culling MAP serologic- or fecal-positive adult cows, and vaccination. Although the 2 first control strategies have been reported to be effective in reducing the incidence of MAP infection, the changes in herd management needed to conduct these control strategies require significant effort on the part of the dairy producer. On the other hand, vaccination is relatively simple to apply and requires minor changes in herd management. Despite these advantages, only 5% of US dairy operations use vaccination to control MAP. This low level of adoption of this technology is due to limited information on its cost-effectiveness and efficacy and some important inherent drawbacks associated with current MAP vaccines. This study investigates the epidemiological effect and economic values of MAP vaccines in various stages of development. We create scenarios for the potential epidemiological effects of MAP vaccines, and then estimate economically justifiable monetary values at which vaccines become economically beneficial to dairy producers such that a net present value (NPV) of a farm's net cash flow can be higher than the NPV of a farm using no control or alternative nonvaccine controls. Any vaccination with either low or high efficacy considered in this study yielded a higher NPV compared with a no MAP control. Moreover, high-efficacy vaccines generated an even higher NPV compared with alternative controls, making vaccination economically attractive. Two high-efficacy vaccines were particularly effective in MAP control and NPV maximization. One was a high-efficacy vaccine that reduced susceptibility to MAP infection. The other was a high-efficacy vaccine that had multiple efficacies on the dynamics of MAP infection and disease progress. Only one high-efficacy vaccine, in which the vaccine is targeted at reducing MAP shedding and the number of clinical cases, was not economically beneficial to dairy producers compared with an alternative nonvaccine control, when herds were highly infected with MAP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1855-1872
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Economic analysis
  • Johne's disease
  • Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis vaccine
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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