Application of an integrated outbreak management plan for the control of leptospirosis in dairy cattle herds

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Two outbreaks of Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo infection in dairy cattle herds were managed through the application of enhanced biosecurity measures, whole-herd antibiotic treatment and vaccination. Micro-agglutination test antibody titres were determined in paired serum samples at 3 weeks (T1: n = 125, 97% seropositivity, median 800, range 100–12800) and 24 weeks (T2: n = 110, 88% seropositivity, median 200, range 100–6400) after vaccination and studied in relation to cows' age, herd of origin and sampling time. From T1 to T2, vaccine-elicited antibody titres decreased by 84·7% (95% CI 76·2–90·1). Consistent with increasing immunocompetence in calves (aged <12 months) and immunosenescence in adult cows (aged >36 months) associated with ageing, antibody titres correlated positively with calves' age and negatively with adult cows' age. No cow had cultivable, (histo)pathologically detectable and/or PCR-detectable leptospires in urine or kidney samples after treatment and vaccination. Vaccination together with proper biosecurity measures and chemoprophylaxis are an affordable insurance to control bovine leptospirosis.

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