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Aust Vet J. 1999 Feb;77(2):113-9.

Evaluation of diagnostic tests for Johne's disease in young cattle.

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Victorian Institute of Animal Science, Attwood.



To investigate the development of immune responses in calves experimentally and naturally infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis and to evaluate the potential for diagnostic tests to detect infected calves.


Sequential testing of four treatment groups of calves over a 2 year period.


Twenty-nine calves were allocated to four groups. Group D calves were orally dosed with M paratuberculosis, group N calves naturally exposed to M paratuberculosis, group V calves vaccinated for M paratuberculosis, and group C were control calves (not infected or vaccinated). Blood and faecal specimens were collected from each calf at monthly intervals to 18 months of age and then every 2 months until they were slaughtered between the ages of 21 and 29 months. Specimens were tested using absorbed EIA, IFN-gamma EIA and faecal culture. The infection status of the calves was confirmed by extensive histopathological examination and tissue culture.


M paratuberculosis infection was confirmed in 10 calves, comprising six of eight orally dosed calves, three of five naturally exposed calves and one of nine vaccinated calves. The six artificially infected calves and one naturally infected calf were detected shedding M paratuberculosis in their faeces. Results with positive absorbed EIA were obtained from one artificially infected calf, one naturally infected calf and three vaccinated calves. All calves including controls had positive results on at least one occasion using the IFN-gamma EIA. In addition, seven calves had positive bovine tuberculosis results using the IFN-gamma EIA, even though bovine tuberculosis has been eradicated from Australia.


Detection of M paratuberculosis infection in young cattle continues to be difficult using current tests.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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