[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An investigation was conducted for Mycobacterium avium ss paratuberculosis infections in a research herd of llamas and alpacas. Herd culture-negative status was established over a 23-month period by screening any individuals with any signs compatible with paratuberculosis (n = 1), high serology values (n = 8), or other health and research related reasons (n = 24). There were no M. avium ss paratuberculosis isolates from radiometric cultures of multiple tissue and fecal samples from these individuals and no known sources of exposure. Paratuberculosis is uncommon in North American llamas and alpacas: only 5 cases were identified after an extensive search of the Veterinary Medical Data Base, diagnostic laboratory records, publication databases, and personal communications. Therefore, serum samples from llamas (n = 84) and alpacas (n = 16) in the culture-negative herd were used to obtain preliminary estimates of test specificity for 3 enzyme-linked immunoassays (ELISAs) and an agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) assay kit for detecting serum antibodies to M. avium ss paratuberculosis in South American camelids. The ELISAs were modifications of established bovine assays for antibody detection. With provisional cutoffs, ELISA-A had 52 false positives (specificity 48%), ELISA-B had 8 false positives (specificity 92%), ELISA-C had two false positives (specificity 98%), and the AGID had 0 false positives (specificity 100%). The range of ELISA values for culture-positive llamas and alpacas (n = 10) from other herds overlapped the range of values for culture-negative llamas and alpacas. The accuracy of the ELISAs may be improved by using age- and sex-specific cutoffs because uninfected male llamas and alpacas that were older than 1 year had higher values for some tests. These tests can be used for either llamas or alpacas; the protein-G conjugate ELISA (ELISA-B) may be useful for multispecies applications. These assays are best used for rapid presumptive diagnoses of llamas and alpacas with diarrhea and weight loss and as a screening tool for herds known to be exposed to infection. All seropositive results should be confirmed with culture.
Journal of veterinary diagnostic investigation: official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc 08/2000; 12(4):345-53. DOI:10.1177/104063870001200408 · 1.35 Impact Factor