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Vet Microbiol. 2001 Mar 20;79(2):123-31.

Incidence of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in raw sheep and goats' milk in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Department of Food Science (Microbiology), The Queen's University of Belfast, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, UK.


A blind survey of 104 raw sheep and goats' milk samples (90 goat, 14 sheeps) from bulk tanks on farms throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland was carried out over a 5-month period (January-May 1998) in order to determine the incidence of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Each milk sample (100 ml) was divided into two 50ml portions. One portion was decontaminated with 0.75% hexadecylpyridinium chloride for 5h before culture on slopes of Herrold's egg yolk medium and in BACTEC radiometric medium. The second portion was subjected to immunomagnetic separation followed by IS900 PCR (IMS-PCR). The IMS-PCR assay was employed in order to provide a more rapid indication of the presence of M. paratuberculosis in each milk sample than is possible by culture. Information on the Johne's disease status of the sheep and goat herds that took part in the survey was not sought at the time of milk sampling. However, it subsequently emerged that at least some of the herds whose bulk milk was tested during this study were previously or currently infected with Johne's disease. Overall, during this survey one raw goats' milk sample tested positive for the presence of M. paratuberculosis by IMS-PCR (<1% of milk samples tested) but no viable M. paratuberculosis were isolated by culture. The results of this study suggest that bulk raw sheep and goats' milk from these regions of the UK may not represent significant vehicles of transmission of M. paratuberculosis to humans.

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