To provide evidence of the performance of the test-and-cull based BTEC program to inform revision of the BTEC strategy.
Longitudinal data from dairy cattle tested during 2015-2020 were analysed to quantify the tests applied, bTB positive herds, reactors, and meat inspection findings.
The dairy industry is concentrated in Central Division which includes Suva, the capital of Fiji. Based on population data reported in the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census, in 2020 the BTEC program tested 74.5% of the dairy cattle in Central Division.
3,912 (7.8%) of the total of 50,237 unique identity dairy cattle tested during 2015-2020 were bTB reactors. In 2019-2020, tissues from reactors without visible bTB lesions at meat inspection were sent for culture and 79% were presumptive culture positive for M. bovis. By 2020, when classified by size of operation, the proportion of bTB positive dairy farms was 64%, 28% and 21% for commercial, semi-commercial and subsistence farm categories, respectively.
The retrospective study showed that bTB prevalence is not decreasing in dairy farms. The main contributors to this were large farms retaining older animals, the movement of animals from bTB infected or restricted farms to other locations and incomplete testing.
Bovine tuberculosis remains a serious concern for the Fiji dairy industry and a public health risk for those that consume unpasteurised milk. It is imperative that the main contributors to bTB persistence in dairy farms be identified so that government policy and industry action can target these and support more farms to achieve and maintain clear status.