Exploring the longitudinal dynamics of herd BVD antibody test results using model-based clustering

Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 6;9(1):11353. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47339-6.


Determining the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) infection status of cattle herds is a challenge for control and eradication schemes. Given the changing dynamics of BVD virus (BVDV) antibody responses in cattle, classifying herds based on longitudinal changes in the results of BVDV antibody tests could offer a novel, complementary approach to categorising herds that is less likely than the present system to result in a herd's status changing from year to year, as it is more likely to capture the true exposure dynamics of the farms. This paper describes the dynamics of BVDV antibody test values (measured as percentage positivity (PP)) obtained from 15,500 bovines between 2007 and 2010 from thirty nine cattle herds located in Scotland and Northern England. It explores approaches of classifying herds based on trend, magnitude and shape of their antibody PP trajectories and investigates the epidemiological similarities between farms within the same cluster. Gaussian mixture models were used for the magnitude and shape clustering. Epidemiologically meaningful clusters were obtained. Farm cluster membership depends on clustering approach used. Moderate concordance was found between the shape and magnitude clusters. These methods hold potential for application to enhance control efforts for BVD and other infectious livestock diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Bovine Virus Diarrhea-Mucosal Disease / immunology*
  • Cattle
  • Diarrhea Viruses, Bovine Viral / immunology*
  • England
  • Farms
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Scotland
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Viral