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Sensitivity of test strategies used in the Voluntary Johne's Disease Herd Status Program for detection of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis infection in dairy cattle herds

Scott J. Wells DVM, PhD, DACVPM1, Robert H. Whitlock DVM, PhD, DACVIM2, Bruce A. Wagner MS3, James Collins DVM, PhD4, Franklyn Garry DVM, MS5, Heather Hirst DVM, MS6, John Lawrence BS7, William J. A. Saville DVM, PhD, DACVIM8, and Alecia L. Larew Naugle DVM9
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  • 1 Department of Clinical and Population Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
  • | 3 Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health, USDA:APHIS:VS, Fort Collins, CO 80521.
  • | 4 Department of Diagnostic Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 6 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 7 IDEXX Laboratories, 1 IDEXX Dr, Westbrook, ME 04092.
  • | 8 Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.
  • | 9 Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate sensitivities at the herd level of test strategies used in the Voluntary Johne's Disease Herd Status Program (VJDHSP) and alternative test strategies for detecting dairy cattle herds infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.

Design—Nonrandom cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—64 dairy herds from Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Fifty-six herds had at least 1 cow shedding M paratuberculosis in feces; the other 8 herds were free from paratuberculosis.

Procedure—For all adult cows in each herd, serum samples were tested for antibodies to M paratuberculosis with an ELISA, and fecal samples were submitted for bacterial culture for M paratuberculosis. Sensitivities at the herd level (probability of detecting infected herd) of various testing strategies were then evaluated.

Results—Sensitivity at the herd level of the testing strategy used in level 1 of the VJDHSP (use of the ELISA to test samples from 30 cows followed by confirmatory bacterial culture of feces from cows with positive ELISA result) ranged from 33 to 84% for infected herds, depending on percentage of cows in the herd with positive bacterial culture results. If follow- up bacterial culture was not used to confirm positive ELISA results, sensitivity ranged from 70 to 93%, but probability of identifying uninfected herds as infected was 89%.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that the testing strategy used in the VJDHSP will fail to identify as infected most dairy herds with a low prevalence of paratuberculosis. A higher percentage of infected herds was detected if follow-up bacterial culture was not used, but this test strategy was associated with a high probability of misclassifying uninfected herds. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220: 1053–1057)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate sensitivities at the herd level of test strategies used in the Voluntary Johne's Disease Herd Status Program (VJDHSP) and alternative test strategies for detecting dairy cattle herds infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.

Design—Nonrandom cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—64 dairy herds from Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Fifty-six herds had at least 1 cow shedding M paratuberculosis in feces; the other 8 herds were free from paratuberculosis.

Procedure—For all adult cows in each herd, serum samples were tested for antibodies to M paratuberculosis with an ELISA, and fecal samples were submitted for bacterial culture for M paratuberculosis. Sensitivities at the herd level (probability of detecting infected herd) of various testing strategies were then evaluated.

Results—Sensitivity at the herd level of the testing strategy used in level 1 of the VJDHSP (use of the ELISA to test samples from 30 cows followed by confirmatory bacterial culture of feces from cows with positive ELISA result) ranged from 33 to 84% for infected herds, depending on percentage of cows in the herd with positive bacterial culture results. If follow- up bacterial culture was not used to confirm positive ELISA results, sensitivity ranged from 70 to 93%, but probability of identifying uninfected herds as infected was 89%.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that the testing strategy used in the VJDHSP will fail to identify as infected most dairy herds with a low prevalence of paratuberculosis. A higher percentage of infected herds was detected if follow-up bacterial culture was not used, but this test strategy was associated with a high probability of misclassifying uninfected herds. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220: 1053–1057)