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Vet Pathol. 2005 Jan;42(1):42-51.

Comparison of diagnostic detection methods for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in North American bison.

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Department of Veterinary Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA.


Tissues and fecal material were collected from 14 North American bison (Bison bison) that were suspected of having Johne's disease and analyzed for the presence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (M. paratuberculosis). Sections of ileum, ileal-cecal lymph node, and three sequential sections of jejunum with their associated mesenteric lymph nodes were taken from each animal. Fecal culture indicated that 5 of 14 (35.7%) animals were infected, whereas cultures from tissues detected 12 of 14 (85.7%) animals as infected and 59 of 111 (53.2%) of the tissues as positive for M. paratuberculosis. Polymerase chain reaction analysis identified infection in 14 of 14 (100%) animals and in 91 of 112 (81.2%) tissues. In addition, tissues were processed for Ziehl-Neelsen acid-fast staining, auramine O/acridine orange fluorescent staining, and immunohistochemical staining. Ziehl-Neelsen and auramine O staining identified 7 of 14 (50%) and 5 of 14 (35.7%) animals as infected and 24 of 112 (21.4%) and 28 of 112 (25%) tissues as positive, respectively. Immunohistochemical analyses of bison tissues, using antisera collected from rabbits immunized with four different preparations of M. paratuberculosis, identified a greater percentage of infected animals (ranging from 57 to 93%) and positive tissues (ranging from 28 to 46%). Collectively, these data indicate that DNA-based detection of M. paratuberculosis was more sensitive than bacterial culture or staining, identified infection in all the bison, and detected the greatest number of positive tissues within each animal.

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