Herd Prevalence Estimation of Mycobacterium avium Subspecies paratuberculosis Burden in the Three Main Dairy Production Regions of Germany (PraeMAP)
On-farm environmental sampling is an effective method for herd-level diagnosis of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) infection and between-herd prevalence estimation. So far, no prevalence study enrolling important livestock-farming regions has been conducted. As the structure of dairy farming differs between main livestock-farming regions in Germany, our objective was to assess the between-herd prevalence of paratuberculosis for these regions in a standardized approach. Methods: In total, 457 randomly selected dairy farms from three regions of Germany (North: 183, East: 170, South: 104) were sampled between 2017 and 2019. Environmental samples (boot-swabs, aggregate feces and/or liquid manure samples) were cultured and analyzed using an IS900-qPCR for MAP determination. Of the 457 selected farms, 94 had at least one MAP-positive environmental sample with significant differences between regions regarding the apparent (North: 12.0%, East: 40.6%, South: 2.9%) or corrected true (North: 14.8%, East: 50.1%, South: 3.6%) between-herd prevalence. In conclusion, regional differences of between-herd prevalence of paratuberculosis are substantial in Germany, indicating the need for control approaches with different aims. Taking into account regional MAP prevalence, MAP-control programs should focus on on-farm prevalence reduction or on mitigating the risk of between-herd transmission, depending on region.