Paratuberculosis, or Johne's disease (JD), is a chronic enteric disease of ruminants infected by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) that causes a significant financial loss in dairy industry. To reduce prevalence and transmission in dairy herds infected with MAP, control programs have been implemented, including test-based culling, improved calf rearing management, and vaccination. The important issue of preventing MAP invasion into a MAP-free herd has been less investigated, however. The objective of this study was to examine whether vaccination was able to prevent MAP invasion in dairy cattle using a stochastic simulation approach. We developed a MAP vaccination model in which calves were vaccinated with a vaccine that is both imperfect in reducing the susceptibility of the host ('leaky') and that does not successfully immunize all calves ('failure in take'). Probability of MAP persistence and the number of infected animals in herds were computed for both control and vaccinated herds over a ten-year period after introduction of an initial infected heifer. Global parameter sensitivity analyses were performed to find the most influential parameters for MAP invasion. Our results show that vaccination of calves is effective in preventing MAP invasion, provided that the vaccine is of high efficacy in both reduction of susceptibility and 'take' effects; however, there is still a small chance (<0.15) that MAP can be sustained in herds over a long time (>10 years) due to vertical transmission. This study indicates that reduction in the transmission rate of high shedders (>50 CFU), the number of infected heifers initially introduced to herds, and vertical transmission are important to further decrease the probability of MAP becoming endemic and the overall number of infected animals in endemic herds. The simulation work is useful for designing vaccination programs aimed at preventing MAP invasion in MAP-free herds.
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