Johne’s Disease in the eyes of Irish farmers: a qualitative narrative research approach to understanding implications for disease management

C McAloon, A Macken-Walsh, Lisa Moran, A Byrne, M Doherty, P Whyte

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    Bovine Johne’s Disease (JD) is a disease characterised by chronic granulomatous enteritis which manifestsclinically as a protein-losing enteropathy causing diarrhoea, hypoproteinaemia, emaciation and, eventu-ally death. Some research exists to suggest that the aetiologic pathogen Mycobacterium avium subspeciesparatuberculosis may pose a zoonotic risk. Nationally coordinated control programmes have been intro-duced in many of the major milk producing countries across the world. However, JD is challenging tocontrol in infected herds owing to limitations of diagnostic tests and the long incubation period of thedisease. Internationally, research increasingly recognises that improved understanding of farmers’ sub-jective views and behaviours may inform and enhance disease management strategies and support theidentification and implementation of best practice at farm level. The aim of this study was to use quali-tative research methods to explore the values and knowledges of farmers relative to the control of JD atfarm level. The Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) was used to generate data from bothinfected and presumed uninfected farms in Ireland. Qualitative analysis revealed that cultural and socialcapital informed farmers’ decisions on whether to introduce control and preventive measures. Culturalcapital refers to the pride and esteem farmers associate with particular objects and actions whereas socialcapital is the value that farmers associate with social relationships with others. On-farm controls wereoften evaluated by farmers as impractical and were frequently at odds with farmers’ knowledge of calfmanagement. Knowledge from farmers of infected herds did not disseminate among peer farmers. Own-ers of herds believed to be uninfected expressed a view that controls and preventive measures were notworthy of adoption until there was clear evidence of JD in the herd. These findings highlight important barriers and potential aids to prevention and control in both infected and uninfected herds.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7-13
    JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
    Early online date8 Apr 2017
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2017


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