Research Unit in Epidemiology of Animal Infectious Diseases (EpiMAI USC Anses), Alfort National Veterinary School, 7, avenue du Général de Gaulle, 94704 Maisons-Alfort Cedex, France. Electronic address: [Email]
Bovine tuberculosis infection remains at a low but persistent level in French cattle herds and requires for its surveillance the use of tests with limited sensitivity and specificity. It thus appears essential to understand the reality of the field situation, to identify parameters which could affect how veterinarians perform these tests and how it can affect the sensitivity of the bovine tuberculosis surveillance system. We surveyed rural veterinarians (n = 1084), major stakeholders of the bovine tuberculosis surveillance system, after judgement (non-random) sampling to investigate their skin-test practices and their perception of the surveillance and control programs for this disease. The response rate was 19.4% (210/1084). The responses highlighted that veterinarians were aware of the importance of the fight against bovine tuberculosis and were resilient to the challenges and issues faced during fieldwork. However, we identified several areas of noncompliance with regulatory recommendations, particularly regarding the choice of injection site, verifying the quality of the injection, the method of test reading, and the reporting of non-negative test results. Multivariate analysis showed that veterinarians who had worked for fewer years in large-animal practice had better skin-test procedures. A higher proportion of performed comparative tests and a more positive perception of surveillance and control programs by veterinarians were associated with better skin-test practices. The areas of noncompliance identified in this study could be detrimental to the sensitivity of bovine tuberculosis surveillance but our results suggest that improving the information provided to veterinarians and increasing their awareness are feasible solutions to improve the surveillance efficacy.