Risk assessment and management of brucellosis in the southern greater Yellowstone area (II): Cost-benefit analysis of reducing elk brucellosis prevalence

Prev Vet Med. 2016 Nov 1:134:39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2016.09.025. Epub 2016 Sep 29.


Recent cases of bovine brucellosis (Brucella abortus) in cattle (Bos taurus) and domestic bison (Bison bison) of the southern Greater Yellowstone Area (SGYA) have been traced back to free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus). Several management activities have been implemented to reduce brucellosis seroprevalence in elk, including test-and-slaughter, low-density feeding at elk winter feedgrounds, and elk vaccination. It is unclear which of these activities are most cost-effective at reducing the risk of elk transmitting brucellosis to cattle. In a companion paper, a stochastic risk model was used to translate a reduction in elk seroprevalence to a reduction in the risk of transmission to cattle. Here, we use those results to estimate the expected economic benefits and costs of reducing seroprevalence in elk using three different management activities: vaccination of elk with Brucella strain 19 (S19), low-density feeding of elk, and elk test-and-slaughter. Results indicate that the three elk management activities yield negative expected net benefits, ranging from -$2983 per year for low-density feeding to -$595,471 per year for test-and-slaughter. Society's risk preferences will determine whether strategies that generate small negative net benefit, such as low-density feeding, are worth implementing. However, activities with large negative net benefits, such as test-and-slaughter and S19 vaccination, are unlikely to be economically worthwhile. Given uncertainty about various model parameters, we identify some circumstances in which individual management activities might generate positive expected net benefit.

Keywords: Brucella abortus; Cattle; Economics; Low-density feeding; Strain 19 vaccination; Test-and-slaughter.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brucella abortus / physiology
  • Brucellosis / economics
  • Brucellosis / epidemiology
  • Brucellosis / prevention & control
  • Brucellosis / veterinary*
  • Brucellosis, Bovine / economics
  • Brucellosis, Bovine / epidemiology
  • Brucellosis, Bovine / prevention & control
  • Cattle
  • Communicable Disease Control / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Deer*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Wyoming / epidemiology