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Statistical modelling for clinical mastitis in the dairy cow: problems and solutions

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2003029
  • [Sdv:Bbm:Bm] Life Sciences/Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology/Molecular Biology
  • [Sdv:Bbm:Bm] Sciences Du Vivant/Biochimie
  • Biologie Moléculaire/Biologie Moléculaire
  • [Sdv:Gen:Ga] Life Sciences/Genetics/Animal Genetics
  • [Sdv:Gen:Ga] Sciences Du Vivant/Génétique/Génétique Animale
  • [Sdv:Bc] Life Sciences/Cellular Biology
  • [Sdv:Bc] Sciences Du Vivant/Biologie Cellulaire
  • [Sdv:Bc:Ic] Life Sciences/Cellular Biology/Cell Behavior
  • [Sdv:Bc:Ic] Sciences Du Vivant/Biologie Cellulaire/Interactions Cellulaires
  • [Sdv:Mp] Life Sciences/Microbiology And Parasitology
  • [Sdv:Mp] Sciences Du Vivant/Microbiologie Et Parasitologie
  • [Sdv:Imm] Life Sciences/Immunology
  • [Sdv:Imm] Sciences Du Vivant/Immunologie
  • [Sdv:Neu] Life Sciences/Neurons And Cognition
  • [Sdv:Neu] Sciences Du Vivant/Neurosciences
  • [Sdv:Spee] Life Sciences/Santé Publique Et épidémiologie
  • [Sdv:Spee] Sciences Du Vivant/Santé Publique Et épidémiologie
  • [Sdv:Ba] Life Sciences/Animal Biology
  • [Sdv:Ba] Sciences Du Vivant/Biologie Animale
  • Clinical Mastitis
  • Dairy Cow
  • Epidemiology
  • Modelling
  • Overdispersion
  • Design
  • Medicine


Modelling case occurrence and risk factors for clinical mastitis, as a key multifactorial disease in the dairy cow, requires statistical models. The type of model used depends on the choice of perception or the study level: herd, lactation, animal, udder and quarter. The validity of the tests that are performed through these models is especially ensured when hypotheses of independence between statistical units are respected, and when the model adjustments do not involve overdispersion faced with the observed data. In the article, the main sources of overdispersion are identified according to the different levels of perception of mastitis risk. Then, the proposed solutions to control for overdispersion at each study level are discussed and the difficulty to compare the study results is highlighted through a variety of methodological choices of the authors. Two main categories of models are used for modelling clinical mastitis, i.e. generalist exploratory models and explanatory designed models. The contribution of the explanatory models to improve modelling accuracy and relevance is documented through the two main published methodological approaches, the first one being based on a states model, and the second on a survival model. The integration and optimisation of such explanatory modelling methods should be possible in the future in order to develop a more global explanatory model including herd risk factors, which could pertinently predict udder infections (both clinical and subclinical) at the cow, lactation, or even udder and quarter levels.

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