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Vet Microbiol. 2008 Mar 18;127(3-4):300-8. Epub 2007 Aug 19.

Characterization of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis disseminated infection in dairy cattle and its association with antemortem test results.

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  • 1Animal Population Health Institute, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1681, USA.


Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) disseminated infection in dairy cattle affects animal health and productivity and is also a potential public health concern. The study objectives were to characterize MAP disseminated infection in dairy cattle and to determine the role of antemortem tests in detecting cattle with disseminated infection. Forty culled dairy cows representing a variety of serum enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) results and body conditions were selected for the study. The physical condition of the cows was assessed via clinical examination prior to euthanasia and blood and feces were collected and tested by serum ELISA and fecal culture, respectively. Fifteen tissues were aseptically collected from each cow during necropsy and cultured for isolation of MAP. Disseminated infection was diagnosed when MAP was isolated in tissues other than the intestines or their associated lymph nodes (LNs) and was distinguished from infection found only in the gastrointestinal tissues and from absence of infection. Of the 40 cows in the study, 21 had MAP disseminated infection. Results showed that 57% (12/21) of cows with disseminated infection had average to heavy body condition and no diarrhea. Cows with disseminated infection had no to minimal gross pathologic evidence of infection in 37% (8/21) of cases. Only 76% (16/21) of cows with disseminated infection had positive historical ELISA results and only 62% (13/21) had a positive ELISA at slaughter. Thus, antemortem evidence of MAP infection was lacking in a high proportion of cows where MAP disseminated infection was confirmed.

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