France attained 'Officially Tuberculosis-Free' status in 2000. However, the Côte d'Or department (a French administrative unit) has since seen an increase in bovine tuberculosis (bTB) cases, with 35% of cases attributed to neighbourhood contamination. The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of neighbourhood contacts in an area affected by bTB in 2010, through the use of social network methods. We carried out a survey to determine the frequency and distribution of between-herd contacts in an area containing 22 farms. Contacts were weighted, as not all types of contact carried the same risk of bTB transmission. Cattle movement was considered to be associated with the highest risk, but was not observed within the studied area during the study period. Contact with wild boars was the most frequent type of contact, but was associated with a very low risk. Direct cattle-to-cattle contacts in pasture and contacts with badger latrines were less frequent, but entailed a greater risk of M. bovis transmission. Centrality values were heterogeneous in these two networks. This would enable the disease to spread more rapidly at the start of epidemics than in a perfect randomly mixed population. However, this situation should also result in the total number of infected herds being smaller. We attributed 95% of the contacts to direct contact in pasture or contact with wild boars or badger latrines. Other kinds of contact occurred less frequently (equipment sharing, cattle straying) or did not occur at all (attendance at a show). Most of the contact types were correlated, but none was sufficient in itself to account for all contacts between one particular farm and its neighbours. Contacts with neighbours therefore represent a challenge for the implementation or improvement of control measures.
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