The Importance of Awareness for Veterinarians Involved in Cattle Tuberculosis Skin Testing

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France is currently facing a re-emergence of bovine tuberculosis in several regions. To assess the knowledge of veterinary field practitioners concerning skin testing, a questionnaire-based methodology developed in Belgium was adapted to the context of the French department of Dordogne. The veterinarians involved in herds skin testing were solicited to participate to the survey (n = 94), through an anonymous postal questionnaire including items related to each step of the skin test procedure. Each item of the questionnaire was allotted a compliance score by 5 experts in the field of bovine tuberculosis (0, 1 or 2 a correct, acceptable and unacceptable answer, respectively). These scores were balanced over 30 criteria according to their potential impact on the non-detection of reactors, on the basis of 11 experts’ opinion. A global score was calculated for each participating veterinarian. In addition, the Departmental sanitary authorities held meetings in December 2005 and June 2006 to make the veterinarians aware of the importance of correctly performing the skin test. The participants to the study were asked to fill in the questionnaire in duplicate: one related to their practices before the meeting, and the other one focusing on their practices after the meeting. A comparison of both situations was carried out (pre- and post-awareness meeting), as well as a comparison with the Belgian situation, arbitrarily selected as reference for the methodology. The participation was representative and reached a 23.4% rate. A significant difference was noticed between the mean global score reached before and after the meeting. These results show the usefulness of an appropriate awareness campaign of veterinarians in relation to skin testing and the importance of frequently holding awareness meetings in areas remaining confronted with bovine tuberculosis problems. It also highlights the interest of a structured auto-assessment process of veterinary practices.

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