Ante mortem diagnosis of paratuberculosis: A review of accuracies of ELISA, interferon-γ assay and faecal culture techniques
Infections with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) can be latent for years without affecting the animal, but the animal may become infectious or clinical at some point. Diagnosis of paratuberculosis can be a challenge primarily in latent stages of the infection, and different diagnosis interpretations are usually required by the variety of decision makers. The objective of this paper was to provide a critical review of reported accuracies of ELISA tests, interferon-gamma assays (IFN-gamma) and faecal culture (FC) techniques used for diagnosis of three defined target conditions: MAP infected, MAP infectious and MAP affected animals. For each animal species, target condition and diagnostic test-type, sensitivities (Se) and specificities (Sp) were summarised based on a systematic, critical review of information in literature databases. The diagnostic test information often varied substantially for tests of the same type and make, particularly ELISA, which was the most frequently reported test-type. Comparison of the various tests accuracies was generally not possible, but stratification of test-evaluations by target condition improved the interpretation of the test accuracies. Infectious and affected animals can often be detected, but Se for infected animals is generally low. A main conclusion of the review was that the quality of design, implementation and reporting of evaluations of tests for paratuberculosis is generally poor. Particularly, there is a need for better correspondence between the study population and target population, i.e. the subjects chosen for test evaluation should reflect the distribution of animals in the population where the test is intended to be used.