Spatial-temporal variations of bovine tuberculosis incidence in France between 1965 and 2000.
We analysed the spatiotemporal variations of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) incidence between 1965 and 2000 in France at the department level (95 areas). Using a Bayesian space-time model, we studied the association between the evolution of bTB incidence and changes of cattle population structure and of herd management practices. Several spatiotemporal hierarchical Bayesian models were compared, and the deviance information criterion was used to select the best of them. Southern France remained a high-risk area over the analysed period, whereas central and western regions were low-risk areas. Besides the frequency of tuberculin skin testing (fixed according to bTB incidence in the preceding years), four factors were associated with an increased risk of bTB: the average herd density and size, the percentage of dairy cows in the cattle population, and the percentage of permanent grassland in cultivated surfaces area. These four factors are linked to the progressive professionalization and specialization of cattle farming, with the disappearance of family farms and of the intensification of breeding systems (especially in dairy farms after the application of the milk quota system in the 1980s). Both trends probably played a significant role in reducing the risk of bTB in France between 1965 and 2000, besides mandatory detection and control procedures.