Application of different methods for the diagnosis of paratuberculosis in a dairy cattle herd in Argentina.

Department of Animal Production, EEA INTA--School of Agricultural Sciences, National University of Mar del Plata, Balcarce, Argentina.
Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series B (Impact Factor: 1.48). 03/2003; 50(1):20-6. DOI: 10.1046/j.1439-0450.2003.00606.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Paratuberculosis (Ptbc) has a high prevalence in Argentina, that affects dairy and beef cattle. The culture is the gold standard to the diagnosis of the disease. Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (M. paratuberculosis), the aetiological agent, is difficult to isolate and grow in culture. In this study, 24 randomly selected cows of the Fresian breed from a dairy herd with a history of Ptbc were used to evaluate the performance of different diagnostic techniques. These animals did not show clinical signs of the disease. However, another animal from this herd presented evidence of clinical disease at the moment of the present study. This animal was necropsied and one strain of M. paratuberculosis was isolated from faeces, lymph nodes and intestine. Serum for indirect absorbed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) tests and whole blood samples to perform gamma interferon (gammaIFN) release assays were obtained from each animal. Faeces and milk samples to carry out bacteriological cultures, PCR identification of M. paratuberculosis, and direct examinations of smears with Ziehl-Neelsen's (ZN) stain were also collected. Tuberculin test with bovine purified protein derivative (PPD) in the caudal fold was performed. The results showed that 10 out of 24 animals (41.6%) were positive to ELISA. Eight strains of M. paratuberculosis were isolated, six from faeces, two from milk. Five of the animals that excreted the bacteria through faeces were ELISA-positive, whereas the excreters through milk were negative to ELISA. No positive samples by AGID were obtained in clinical asymptomatic animals. Seven samples gave positive gammaIFN results with avian PPD, but only two of these animals were confirmed with culture. Direct PCR, to detect IS900 (M. paratuberculosis) in faeces and milk samples, was negative, but PCR using material taken from faecal and milk cultures gave positive results before visualizing the colonies. No sample was positive by PCR directed to IS6110 (M. tuberculosis complex). There was not always agreement between isolations and ZN in the studied samples. In conclusion, the absorbed ELISA was useful to detect positive animals and excreters through faeces but not through milk. PCR applied to cultures with incipient development before the visualization of colonies was effective to specifically determine the presence of M. paratuberculosis. The gammaIFN test was not able to detect the most positive animals confirmed by culture. The importance of using ELISA and cultures is emphasized by this study but it is necessary to continue with the gammaIFN test development for early detection of the disease.

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