Statement on a conceptual framework for bovine tuberculosis
Control and eradication of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a challenge owing to the complex interactions between the pathogen, hosts and local environments. Modelling various bTB situations may lead to improved understanding of the ways in which different factor combinations and interactions influence occurrence, surveillance outcomes and control efforts. A conceptual framework would help to outline, from an epidemiological perspective, which factors influence bTB infection, detection and control, and how they might interact in various European situations. The conceptual framework on bTB described in this statement is built around an anchor model describing the interactions between the most important biological and non-biological parameters involved in bTB infection, detection and control. The interactions are examined at three levels, corresponding to three ‘units of interest’, in the case of bTB the animal, the herd and the area levels. The conceptual framework is intended to help understand the inputs that should be considered when developing a specific component of the episystem (i.e. the ecological context of the epidemiological problem). It should be able to help both in the generation and interpretation of predictive and analytical models (dealing with a specific component of the framework) designed to answer specific questions regarding bTB. The relationship between the conceptual framework and particular examples related to the force of infection, the non-biological context and testing of bTB are explained and discussed in the document.