Cost-effectiveness of farm interventions for reducing the prevalence of VTEC O157 on UK dairy farms

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A randomized control trial on verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC)-infected farms found evidence that: (1) keeping animals in the same group; (2) maintaining dry bedding; (3) preventing direct contact with neighbouring cattle; and (4) maintaining a closed herd, were associated with a reduced risk of infection in youngstock aged 3–18 months. This study evaluated these interventions using a cost-effectiveness framework for UK dairy farms. Keeping animals in the same group was considered to have negligible cost and was feasible for herds containing over 77 dairy cows. Assuming equal efficacy of the remaining interventions, preventing direct contact between neighbouring cattle is most cost-effective with a median annual cost of £2.76 per cow. This compares to £4.18 for maintaining dry bedding and £17.42 for maintaining a closed herd using quarantine procedures. Further model validation and exploration of other potential benefits are required before making policy decisions on VTEC control.

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