Evaluation of the performance of slaughterhouse surveillance for bovine tuberculosis detection in Castilla y Leon, Spain

Prev Vet Med. 2021 Apr;189:105307. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2021.105307. Epub 2021 Feb 25.


Post-mortem inspection (PMI) of routinely slaughtered cattle in abattoirs is an extremely valuable tool for detecting bovine tuberculosis (bTB) infected herds that can supplement active surveillance activities. However, its true performance is difficult to assess due to the multiple factors that may affect it. Here, we determined relative efficiencies in the detection of bTB-compatible lesions and probabilities of subsequent laboratory confirmation of abattoirs located in Castilla y Leon, one of the regions with the largest cattle population in Spain, between 2010 and 2017. The slaughtered animal population was split based on the results of the ante-mortem tests (reactors or non-reactors), and two generalized linear multivariable mixed models were fitted to each subpopulation to calculate the risk of lesion detection and laboratory confirmation per abattoir while accounting for the effect of potential confounding variables. Throughout the 8-year period, ∼30,000 reactors and >2.8 million non-reactor animals in the ante-mortem tests were culled in the abattoirs under study. Bovine TB compatible lesions were detected in 4,710 (16%) reactors and 828 (0.03%) non-reactor animals, of which >95% were confirmed as infected through bacteriology. The probability of disclosure of bTB-like lesions was associated with the animal subpopulation, type of source unit, the herd size, the year of slaughter, the breed and age of the animal, and/or the season of slaughter. The probabilities of detection of bTB-like lesions varied largely depending on the abattoir in both subpopulations, ranging from 603 to 3,070 per 10,000 animals for the reactors and 0.2-16.1 per 10,000 animals for the non-reactor animals. Results obtained here will help to quantify the performance of PMI in abattoirs in Castilla y Leon and the between-abattoir variability, and to identify animals at increased risk of having bTB-like lesions detected during PMI based on animal- and farm-related factors.

Keywords: Abattoir surveillance; Bovine tuberculosis; Cattle; Mycobacterium bovis; Slaughterhouse.