• Open Access

Risk Factors Associated with Transmission of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis to Calves within Dairy Herd: A Systematic Review


  • Abstract was presented at the 2010 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, Anaheim, California, and at the 26th World Buiatric Congress, Santiago, Chile, November 14–18, 2010.

Corresponding author: Elizabeth Doré, DMV, DACVIM, Hôpital des animaux de la ferme, Université de Montréal, 3200 rue Sicotte, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada, J2S 7C6; e-mail: elizabeth.dore@umontreal.ca.



Paratuberculosis has a worldwide distribution and many countries have implemented control programs to prevent transmission among and within herds. For these programs to be efficient, knowledge of the risk factors involved in transmission is essential.


Systematically review the scientific literature concerning risk factors associated with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) transmission to dairy calves.

Study Design

Systematic review.


An electronic search was done in PubMed and CAB to retrieve references relevant to answer at least 1 of the 5 questions concerning neonatal environment, colostrum, milk, housing of calves, and contact of calves with adult cow feces as risk factors in MAP transmission. A 1st screening was done using titles only, then abstracts, and finally full-length articles were reviewed for relevance. From the articles selected, risk factors and presence of a significant association between these risk factors and MAP transmission were recorded.


Twenty-three articles from 11 different countries and published in 12 different journals were reviewed. The most common study design was cross-sectional (n = 16). The case definition and diagnostic tests used were very variable among studies, but serum ELISA was used in most studies (n = 14). The study unit was the herd in 18 studies.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

The contact of calves with adult cow feces is the most important risk factor in MAP transmission. The 5 categories of risk factors are linked to one another.