Revisiting the relative effectiveness of slaughterhouses in Ireland to detect tuberculosis lesions in cattle (2014–2018)

Male Here, Rischi Robinson; Ryan, Eoin; Breslin, Philip; Frankena, Klaas; Byrne, Andrew William


Slaughterhouse or meat factory surveillance to detect factory lesions (FL) at slaughter is an important part of the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) eradication program in Ireland. The objective of this study was to quantify the effectiveness of Irish slaughterhouses or factories in submitting FL and the proportion of those submitted FL confirmed as being due to bTB in slaughtered cattle, and to identify and quantify the association of risk factors at animal, herd, and factory level with FL submission and confirmation. The data consisted of 6,611,854 animals slaughtered in Irish factories from 2014 to 2018 obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM), Ireland. Selected risk factors for this study included factory, year and month of slaughter, age, sex, breed, animal movement, ever inconclusive in the standard or severe skin test, herd type, herd size, and bTB history. The association of each risk factor on the FL submission and confirmation risk were analysed with univariable followed by a multivariable logistic regression with herd as random effect. Factories were ranked and compared based on the odds ratio (OR) obtained from the univariable (crude OR) and multivariable (adjusted OR) analysis. The average submission risk of all factories was 20 per 10,000 animals slaughtered, ranging from 1 to 42 per 10,000 animals slaughtered, and the average confirmation risk over all factories was 40.72%, ranging from 0.00 to 61.84%. The odds of submitting and confirming FL as bTB positive were higher in animals over eight years old compared to animals 1–2 years old (OR = 1.91, 95 CI 95% 1.77–2.06 and OR = 4.05, 95% CI 3.17–5.18, respectively), and were higher in animals that ever had inconclusive skin result based on severe interpretation (OR = 2.83, 95% CI 2.44–3.27 and OR = 4.48, 95% CI 2.66–7.54, respectively), animals originating from sucklers herds (OR = 1.08, 95% CI 1.02–1.14 and OR = 1.31, 95% CI 1.11–1.55, respectively), or herds with bTB history in the past three years (OR = 4.46, 95% CI 4.28–4.66 and OR = 319.90, 95% CI 237.98–430.04, respectively). The odds of FL submission and confirmation decreased as the herd size increased (OR = 0.95, 95% CI 0.93–0.96 and OR = 0.82, 95% CI 0.78–0.86, respectively). An inverse relationship of FL submission and confirmation was present for variable sex and inconclusive skin result with standard interpretation, where submission odds were higher in males (OR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.00–1.10) and ever inconclusive animals (OR = 74.24, 95% CI 69.39–79.43), although the confirmation odds were lower (males OR = 0.66, 95% CI 0.56–0.76; ever inconclusive OR = 0.44, 95% CI 0.36–0.54). The crude and adjusted ranking of factories did not differ greatly for FL submission, indicating that factory-related factors may contribute significantly to the submission variation between factories. However, a substantial difference between crude and adjusted confirmation ranking was present which may indicate that animal and herd-related factors were associated to variation in confirmation risk between factories.