Browsing by Author "Milne, Margaret Georgina"
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ItemEuropean badger (Meles meles) responses to low-intensity, selective culling: using mark recapture and relatedness data to assess social perturbation(Wiley, 2022-07-28) Allen, Adrian; Milne, Margaret Georgina; McCormick, Charles M.; Collins, Shane; O'Hagan, Maria; Skuce, Robin A.; Trimble, Nigel; Harwook, Roland; Menzies, Fraser; Byrne, Andrew W.Culling the main wildlife host of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain (GB) and Ireland, the European badger (Meles meles), has been employed in both territories to reduce infections in cattle. In GB, this has been controversial, with results suggesting that culling induces disturbance to badger social structure, facilitating wider disease dissemination. Previous analyses hypothesized that even very low-level, selective culling may cause similar deleterious effects by increasing ranging of individuals and greater mixing between social groups. To assess this hypothesis, a novel, prospective, landscape-scale ‘before-and-after’ Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) study was implemented. Test-positive badgers were culled and test-negative badgers were Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccinated and released. Mark–recapture metrics of badger ranging and genetic metrics of social group relatedness did not change significantly over the study period. However, selective culling was associated with a localized reduction in social group relatedness in culled groups. Ecological context is important; extrapolation across territories and other disease epidemiological systems (epi-systems) is likely to be challenging. However, we demonstrate that small-scale, selective removal of test-positive badgers was not associated with metrics of increased ranging but was associated with localized changes in social group relatedness. This adds to the evidence base on badger control options for policy makers. ItemIs There a Relationship Between Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) Herd Breakdown Risk and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Status? An Investigation in bTB Chronically and Non-chronically Infected Herds(Frontiers Media, 2019-02-14) Byrne, Andrew W.; Graham, Jordon; Milne, Margaret Georgina; Guelbenzu-Gonzalo, Maria; Strain, SamBackground: Bovine tuberculosis (bTB; Mycobacterium bovis) remains a significant problem in a number of countries, and is often found where M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is also present. In the United Kingdom, bTB has been difficult to eradicate despite long-term efforts. Co-infection has been proposed as one partial mechanism thwarting eradication. Methods: A retrospective case-control study of 4,500 cattle herds in Northern Ireland, where serological testing of cattle for MAP, was undertaken (2004–2015). Blood samples were ELISA tested for MAP; infection of M. bovis was identified in herds by the comparative tuberculin test (CTT) and through post-mortem evidence of infection. Case-herds were those experiencing a confirmed bTB breakdown; control-herds were not experiencing a breakdown episode at the time of MAP testing. A second model included additional testing data of feces samples (culture and PCR results) to better inform herd MAP status. Multi-level hierarchical models were developed, controlling for selected confounders. A sensitivity analysis of the effect of MAP sample numbers per event and the prior timing of tuberculin-testing was undertaken. Results: 45.2% (n = 250) of case observations and 36.0% (3,480) of control observations were positive to MAP by ELISA (45.8% and 36.4% when including ancillary fecal testing, respectively). Controlling for known confounders, the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for this association was 1.339 (95%CI:1.085–1.652; including ancillary data aOR:1.356;95%CI:1.099–1.673). The size-effect of the association increased with the increasing number of samples per event used to assign herd MAP status (aOR:1.883 at >2 samples, to aOR:3.863 at >10 samples), however the estimated CI increased as N decreased. 41.7% of observations from chronic herds were MAP serology-positive and 32.2% from bTB free herds were MAP positive (aOR: 1.170; 95%ci: 0.481–2.849). Byrne et al. MAP Co-infection Impacts bTB Risk Discussion: Cattle herds experiencing a bTB breakdown were associated with increased risk of having a positive MAP status. Chronic herds tended to exhibit higher risk of a positive MAP status than bTB free herds, however there was less support for this association when controlling for repeated measures and confounding. MAP co-infection may be playing a role in the success of bTB eradiation schemes, however further studies are required to understand the mechanisms and to definitively establish causation. ItemQuantifying land fragmentation in Northern Ireland Cattle Enterprises(MDPI, 2022-03-06) Milne, Margaret Georgina; Byrne, Andrew William; Campbell, Emma; Graham, Jordan; McGrath, John; Kirke, Raymond; McMaster, Wilma; Zimmermann, Jesko; Adenuga, AdewaleFarmland fragmentation is considered to be a defining feature of Northern Ireland’s (NI) agricultural landscape, influencing agricultural efficiency, productivity, and the spread of livestock diseases. Despite this, the full extent of farmland fragmentation in cattle farms in NI is not well understood, and little is known of how farmland fragmentation either influences, or is influenced by, different animal production types. Here, we describe and quantify farmland fragmentation in cattle farms for all of NI, using GIS processing of land parcel data to associate individual parcels with data on the cattle business associated with the land. We found that 35% of farms consisted of five or more fragments, with dairy farms associated with greater levels of farmland fragmentation, fragment dispersal and contact with contiguous neighbours compared to other production types. The elevated levels of farmland fragmentation in dairy production compared to non-dairy, may be associated with the recent expansion of dairy farms by land acquisition, following the abolition of the milk quota system in 2015. The comparatively high levels of farmland fragmentation observed in NI cattle farms may also have important implications for agricultural productivity and epidemiology alike. Whilst highly connected pastures could facilitate the dissemination of disease, highly fragmented land could also hamper productivity via diseconomies of scale, such as preventing the increase of herd sizes or additionally, adding to farm costs by increasing the complexity of herd management. ItemVariation in Mycobacterium bovis genetic richness suggests that inwards cattle movements are a more important source of infection in beef herds than in dairy herds(BMC, 2019-07-05) Milne, Margaret Georgina; Graham, Jordan; Allen, Adrian; McCormick, C.; Presho, Eleanor L.; Skuce, Robin A.; Byrne, A.W.Background We used genetic Multi-Locus VNTR Analysis (MLVA) data gathered from surveillance efforts to better understand the ongoing bovine tuberculosis (bTB) epidemic in Northern Irish cattle herds. We modelled the factors associated with Mycobacterium bovis MLVA genotype richness at three analytical scales; breakdown level, herd level, and patch level, and compared the results between dairy and non-dairy production types. Results In 83% of breakdowns and in 63% of herds, a single MLVA genotype was isolated. Five or more MLVA genotypes were found in less than 3 % of herds. Herd size and the total number of reactors were important explanatory variables, suggesting that increasing MLVA genotype richness was positively related to increases in the number of host animals. Despite their smaller relative size, however, the highest MLVA genotype richness values were observed in non-dairy herds. Increasing inwards cattle movements were important positive predictors of MLVA genotype richness, but mainly in non-dairy settings. Conclusions The principal finding is that low MLVA genotype richness indicates that small-scale epidemics, e.g. wildlife, contiguous farms, and within-herd recrudescence, are important routes of M. bovis infection in cattle herds. We hypothesise that these mechanisms will maintain, but may not explicitly increase, MLVA genotype richness. The presence of elevated MLVA richness is relatively rare and likely indicates beef fattening enterprises, which purchase cattle from over long distances. Cattle movements were furthermore an important predictor of MLVA genotype richness in non-dairy herds, but not in dairy herds; this may represent reduced cattle purchasing levels in dairy enterprises, compared to beef. These observations allude to the relative contribution of different routes of bTB infection between production types; we posit that infection associated with local factors may be more evident in dairy herds than beef herds, however in beef herds, inwards movements offer additional opportunities for introducing M. bovis into the herd.