Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers


Cost-effectiveness of farm interventions for reducing the prevalence of VTEC O157 on UK dairy farms

N. A. LYONSa1 c1, R. P. SMITHa2 and J. RUSHTONa1

a1 Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health Group, The Royal Veterinary College, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK

a2 Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey, UK


A randomized control trial on verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC)-infected farms found evidence that: (1) keeping animals in the same group; (2) maintaining dry bedding; (3) preventing direct contact with neighbouring cattle; and (4) maintaining a closed herd, were associated with a reduced risk of infection in youngstock aged 3–18 months. This study evaluated these interventions using a cost-effectiveness framework for UK dairy farms. Keeping animals in the same group was considered to have negligible cost and was feasible for herds containing over 77 dairy cows. Assuming equal efficacy of the remaining interventions, preventing direct contact between neighbouring cattle is most cost-effective with a median annual cost of £2.76 per cow. This compares to £4.18 for maintaining dry bedding and £17.42 for maintaining a closed herd using quarantine procedures. Further model validation and exploration of other potential benefits are required before making policy decisions on VTEC control.

(Received January 08 2012)

(Revised August 28 2012)

(Accepted October 10 2012)

(Online publication November 13 2012)

Key words

  • Cost-effectiveness study;
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli);
  • zoonoses


c1 Author for correspondence: Mr N. A. Lyons, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK. (Email: nicholas.lyons@lsthm.ac.uk)