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Relative effectiveness of Irish factories in the surveillance of slaughtered cattle for visible lesions of tuberculosis, 2005-2007

Francisco Olea-Popelka1*, Zach Freeman1, Paul White2, Eamonn Costello3, James O'Keeffe4, Klaas Frankena5, Wayne Martin6 and Simon More2

Author Affiliations

1 Animal Population Health Institute, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA

2 Centre of Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, University College Dublin, Belfield, Ireland

3 Department of Agriculture Food and Fisheries, Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland

4 Department of Agriculture Food and Fisheries, Ireland

5 Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology Group, Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands

6 Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Clinical Research Building, Guelph, Ont., Canada N1G 2W1

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2012, 65:2  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-65-2

Published: 30 January 2012



In Ireland, every animal is examined at slaughter for its fitness for human consumption. The aim of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of factories in submitting and subsequently in having suspect lesions confirmed as bovine tuberculosis (TB) lesions during the years 2005-2007. This work provides an update from previously published data for years 2003-2004. During 2005-2007 data were available on 4,401,813 cattle from attested herds (i.e. herds classified free of bovine TB), from which data for potential confounding factors were available for 3,344,057 slaughtered animals at one of the 37 export-licensed factories.


From these animals, 8,178 suspect lesions were submitted for laboratory confirmation. Lesions from 5,456 (66.7%) animals tested as positive, and 269 (3.2%) were inconclusive for bovine TB. Logistic regression was used to determine adjusted submission and confirmation risks for each factory while controlling for confounding factors. Factory rankings based on adjusted and crude risks were similar. The average crude submission risk for all the factories was 25 lesions per 10,000 animals slaughtered, ranging from 0 to 52. The crude confirmation risk varied between 30.3% and 91.3%.


Substantial variation in the effectiveness of lesion submission and subsequent confirmation as bovine TB was found among the 37 factories. Compared to previous years (2003-2004), there was an increased bovine TB lesion submission and confirmation risk. Continued monitoring of the effectiveness of slaughter surveillance in Ireland is recommended; emphasis should be placed on efforts to improve bovine TB surveillance in factories with lower rankings.

Bovine tuberculosis; slaughter surveillance; effectiveness