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  • Author or Editor: Thomas O'Brien x
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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe use of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and evaluate the apparent sensitivity and specificity of antemortem tuberculosis tests during investigation of an unusual outbreak of Mycobacterium bovis infection in a Michigan dairy herd.

DESIGN Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) outbreak investigation.

ANIMALS Cattle, cats, dog, and wildlife.

PROCEDURES All cattle in the index dairy herd were screened for bTB with the caudal fold test (CFT), and cattle ≥ 6 months old were also screened with a γ-interferon (γIFN) assay. The index herd was depopulated along with all barn cats and a dog that were fed unpasteurized milk from the herd. Select isolates from M bovis–infected animals from the index herd and other bTB-affected herds underwent WGS. Wildlife around all affected premises was examined for bTB.

RESULTS No evidence of bTB was found in any wildlife examined. Within the index herd, 53 of 451 (11.8%) cattle and 12 of 21 (57%) cats were confirmed to be infected with M bovis. Prevalence of M bovis–infected cattle was greatest among 4- to 7-month-old calves (16/49 [33%]) followed by adult cows (36/203 [18%]). The apparent sensitivity and specificity were 86.8% and 92.7% for the CFT and 80.4% and 96.5% for the γIFN assay when results for those tests were interpreted separately and 96.1% and 91.7% when results were interpreted in parallel. Results of WGS revealed that M bovis–infected barn cats and cattle from the index herd and 6 beef operations were infected with the same strain of M bovis. Of the 6 bTB-affected beef operations identified during the investigation, 3 were linked to the index herd only by WGS results; there was no record of movement of livestock or waste milk from the index herd to those operations.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Whole-genome sequencing enhanced the epidemiological investigation and should be used in all disease investigations. Performing the CFT and γIFN assay in parallel improved the antemortem ability to detect M bovis–infected animals. Contact with M bovis–infected cattle and contaminated milk were major risk factors for transmission of bTB within and between herds of this outbreak.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association