If control of Neospora caninum infection is technically feasible does it make economic sense?

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Journal Article
Veterinary Parasitology, 2006, 142 (1-2), pp. 23 - 34
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Recent work on Neospora caninum, a protozoan parasite that causes abortions in dairy cattle has focused on a number of different control options. Modelling has suggested the most effective options for control but the present paper argues that the most effective option might not necessarily be optimal from an economic point of view. Decision trees, using published quantitative data, were constructed to choose between four different control strategies. The costs of these interventions, such as 'test and cull', therapeutic treatment with a pharmaceutical, vaccination or "doing nothing" were compared, and modelled, in the first instance, on the New Zealand and Australian dairy situation. It is argued however, that the relative costs in other countries might be similar and that only the availability of a registered vaccine will change the decision tree outcomes, as does the within-herd prevalence of N. caninum infection. To "do nothing" emerged as the optimal economic choice for N. caninum infections/abortions up to a within-herd prevalence of 18%, when viewed over a 1-year horizon, or 21% when costs were calculated over a 5 years horizon. For a higher (≥21%) within-herd prevalence of N. caninum infection vaccination provided the best (i.e. most economic) strategy. Despite being the most efficacious solutions, 'test and cull' or therapeutic treatment never provided a viable economic alternative to vaccination or "doing nothing". Decision tree analysis thus provided clear outcomes in terms of economically optimal strategies. The same approach is likely to be applicable to other countries and the beef industry, with only minor changes expected in the relationships of decisions versus within-herd prevalence of N. caninum infection. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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