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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2012, Article ID 621210, 10 pages
Review Article

Herd-Level Risk Factors for Bovine Tuberculosis: A Literature Review

Veterinary Sciences Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast BT4 3SD, UK

Received 6 January 2012; Accepted 14 April 2012

Academic Editor: Jesse M. Hostetter

Copyright © 2012 Robin A. Skuce et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bovine tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is one of the most challenging endemic diseases currently facing government, the veterinary profession, and the farming industry in the United Kingdom and Ireland and in several other countries. The disease has a notoriously complex epidemiology; the scientific evidence supports both cattle-cattle and wildlife-cattle transmission routes. To produce more effective ways of reducing such transmission, it is important to understand those risk factors which influence the presence or absence of bovine TB in cattle herds. Here we review the literature on herd-level risk factor studies. Whilst risk factors operate at different scales and may vary across regions, epidemiological studies have identified a number of risk factors associated with bovine TB herd breakdowns, including the purchase of cattle, the occurrence of bovine TB in contiguous herds, and/or the surrounding area as well as herd size. Other factors identified in some studies include farm and herd management practices, such as, the spreading of slurry, the use of certain housing types, farms having multiple premises, and the use of silage clamps. In general, the most consistently identified risk factors are biologically plausible and consistent with known transmission routes involving cattle-cattle and wildlife-cattle pathways.