A predictive case-cohort model was applied to Japanese data to analyze the interaction between challenge and stability factors for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) for the period 1985–2020. BSE risk in cattle was estimated as the expected number of detectable cases per year. The model was comprised of a stochastic spreadsheet calculation model with the following inputs: (1) the origin and quantity of live cattle and meat and bone meal imported into Japan, (2) the age distribution of native cattle, and (3) the estimated annual basic reproduction ratio (R0) for BSE. The estimated probability of having zero detectable cases in Japan in 2015 was 0.90 (95% CI 0.83–0.95). The corresponding value for 2020 was 0.99 (95% CI 0.98–0.99). The model predicted that detectable cases may occur in Japan beyond 2015 because of the assumption that continued transmission was permitted to occur (albeit at a very low level) after the 2001 ban on the importation and domestic use of all processed animal proteins for the production of animal feed and for fertilizer. These results reinforce the need for animal health authorities to monitor the efficacy of control measures so that the future course of the BSE epidemic in Japan can be predicted with greater certainty.
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