Economic consequences of paratuberculosis control in dairy cattle: A stochastic modeling study

R. L. Smith, M. A. Al-Mamun, Y. T. Gröhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cost of paratuberculosis to dairy herds, through decreased milk production, early culling, and poor reproductive performance, has been well-studied. The benefit of control programs, however, has been debated. A recent stochastic compartmental model for paratuberculosis transmission in US dairy herds was modified to predict herd net present value (NPV) over 25 years in herds of 100 and 1000 dairy cattle with endemic paratuberculosis at initial prevalence of 10% and 20%. Control programs were designed by combining 5 tests (none, fecal culture, ELISA, PCR, or calf testing), 3 test-related culling strategies (all test-positive, high-positive, or repeated positive), 2 test frequencies (annual and biannual), 3 hygiene levels (standard, moderate, or improved), and 2 cessation decisions (testing ceased after 5 negative whole-herd tests or testing continued). Stochastic dominance was determined for each herd scenario; no control program was fully dominant for maximizing herd NPV in any scenario. Use of the ELISA test was generally preferred in all scenarios, but no paratuberculosis control was highly preferred for the small herd with 10% initial prevalence and was frequently preferred in other herd scenarios. Based on their effect on paratuberculosis alone, hygiene improvements were not found to be as cost-effective as test-and-cull strategies in most circumstances. Global sensitivity analysis found that economic parameters, such as the price of milk, had more influence on NPV than control program-related parameters. We conclude that paratuberculosis control can be cost effective, and multiple control programs can be applied for equivalent economic results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Dairy
  • Disease control
  • Disease modeling
  • Economics
  • Johne's disease
  • Paratuberculosis
  • Stochastic dominance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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