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Association of fecal shedding of mycobacteria with high ELISA-determined seroprevalence for paratuberculosis in beef herds

Allen J. RousselDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843

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Geoffrey T. FosgateDepartment of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843

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Elizabeth J. B. ManningDepartment of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

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Michael T. CollinsDepartment of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the seroprevalence of paratuberculosis by use of 2 commercial ELISAs in association with prevalence of fecal shedding of mycobacteria within beef cattle herds.

Design—Cross-sectional field study.

Animals—Six beef herds (affected herds; 522 cattle) with and 3 geographically matched herds (181 cattle) without high seroprevalence of paratuberculosis.

Procedures—Blood and fecal samples were collected from adult cattle and assessed for serum anti–Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (MAP) antibodies with 2 commercial ELISA kits and submitted for bacterial culture for MAP and environmental bacteria (termed environmental mycobacteria) via a radiometric method, respectively. Species of mycobacterial isolates were identified, and sensitivities and specificities of the 2 ELISAs were compared.

Results—Compared with comparison cattle, cattle from affected herds were 9.4 times as likely to have environmental mycobacteria isolated from feces. Among the 6 affected and 3 comparison herds, the proportions of cattle shedding environmental mycobacteria were 0.225 (range, 0.1 to 0.72) and 0.04 (range, 0 to 0.06), respectively. Although relative MAP-detection specificities (compared with bacterial culture of feces) were different between the 2 ELISAs, sensitivities were not. Nine environmental mycobacterial species were iden-tified from participating herds. All affected herds apparently had ≥ 1 bovid infected with MAP, although MAP was not isolated from any cattle in comparison herds.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In beef herds with persistently high rates of false-positive ELISA results, which may be associated with recovery of environmental myco-bacteria from feces, organism detection via bacterial culture of feces or PCR assay should direct paratuberculosis control measures.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the seroprevalence of paratuberculosis by use of 2 commercial ELISAs in association with prevalence of fecal shedding of mycobacteria within beef cattle herds.

Design—Cross-sectional field study.

Animals—Six beef herds (affected herds; 522 cattle) with and 3 geographically matched herds (181 cattle) without high seroprevalence of paratuberculosis.

Procedures—Blood and fecal samples were collected from adult cattle and assessed for serum anti–Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (MAP) antibodies with 2 commercial ELISA kits and submitted for bacterial culture for MAP and environmental bacteria (termed environmental mycobacteria) via a radiometric method, respectively. Species of mycobacterial isolates were identified, and sensitivities and specificities of the 2 ELISAs were compared.

Results—Compared with comparison cattle, cattle from affected herds were 9.4 times as likely to have environmental mycobacteria isolated from feces. Among the 6 affected and 3 comparison herds, the proportions of cattle shedding environmental mycobacteria were 0.225 (range, 0.1 to 0.72) and 0.04 (range, 0 to 0.06), respectively. Although relative MAP-detection specificities (compared with bacterial culture of feces) were different between the 2 ELISAs, sensitivities were not. Nine environmental mycobacterial species were iden-tified from participating herds. All affected herds apparently had ≥ 1 bovid infected with MAP, although MAP was not isolated from any cattle in comparison herds.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In beef herds with persistently high rates of false-positive ELISA results, which may be associated with recovery of environmental myco-bacteria from feces, organism detection via bacterial culture of feces or PCR assay should direct paratuberculosis control measures.

Contributor Notes

Funded by USDA-APHIS-VS Award No. 03-9100-0792-GR.

Presented in part at the 8th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis, Copenhagen, August 2005, and the 86th Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD), St Louis, December 2005.

Address correspondence to Dr. Roussel.