Network analysis of dairy cattle movement and associations with bovine tuberculosis spread and control in emerging dairy belts of Ethiopia

ETHICOBOTS Consortium, Glyn Hewinson

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Background: Dairy cattle movement could be a major risk factor for the spread of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in emerging dairy belts of Ethiopia. Dairy cattle may be moved between farms over long distances, and hence understanding the route and frequency of the movements is essential to establish the pattern of spread of BTB between farms, which could ultimately help to inform policy makers to design cost effective control strategies. The objective of this study was, therefore, to investigate the network structure of dairy cattle movement and its influence on the transmission and prevalence of BTB in three emerging areas among the Ethiopian dairy belts, namely the cities of Hawassa, Gondar and Mekelle. Methods: A questionnaire survey was conducted in 278 farms to collect data on the pattern of dairy cattle movement for the last 5 years (September 2013 to August 2018). Visualization of the network structure and analysis of the relationship between the network patterns and the prevalence of BTB in these regions were made using social network analysis. Results: The cattle movement network structure display both scale free and small world properties implying local clustering with fewer farms being highly connected, at higher risk of infection, with the potential to act as super spreaders of BTB if infected. Farms having a history of cattle movements onto the herds were more likely to be affected by BTB (OR: 2.2) compared to farms not having a link history. Euclidean distance between farms and the batch size of animals moved on were positively correlated with prevalence of BTB. On the other hand, farms having one or more outgoing cattle showed a decrease on the likelihood of BTB infection (OR = 0.57) compared to farms which maintained their cattle. Conclusion: This study showed that the patterns of cattle movement and size of animal moved between farms contributed to the potential for BTB transmission. The few farms with the bulk of transmission potential could be efficiently targeted by control measures aimed at reducing the spread of BTB. The network structure described can also provide the starting point to build and estimate dynamic transmission models for BTB, and other infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number262
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2019


  • Bovine tuberculosis transmission
  • Contact network analysis
  • Ethiopia
  • Scale free
  • Small world
  • Prevalence
  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Risk Factors
  • Transportation
  • Dairying/statistics & numerical data
  • Ethiopia/epidemiology
  • Animal Husbandry/methods
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine/epidemiology
  • Cluster Analysis


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