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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2011 Dec;18(12):2143-7. doi: 10.1128/CVI.05386-11. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Diagnostic value of animal-side antibody assays for rapid detection of Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacterium microti infection in South American camelids.

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Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc., 3661 Horseblock Road, Medford, NY 11763, USA.


Tuberculosis (TB) in South American camelids (SAC) is caused by Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacterium microti. Two serological methods, rapid testing (RT) and the dual-path platform (DPP) assay, were evaluated using naturally infected SAC. The study population included 156 alpacas and 175 llamas in Great Britain, Switzerland, and the United States. TB due to M. bovis (n = 44) or M. microti (n = 8) in 35 alpacas and 17 llamas was diagnosed by gross pathology examination and culture. Control animals were from herds with no TB history. The RT and the DPP assay showed sensitivities of 71% and 74%, respectively, for alpacas, while the sensitivity for llamas was 77% for both assays. The specificity of the DPP assay (98%) was higher than that of RT (94%) for llamas; the specificities of the two assays were identical (98%) for alpacas. When the two antibody tests were combined, the parallel-testing interpretation (applied when either assay produced a positive result) enhanced the sensitivities of antibody detection to 89% for alpacas and 88% for llamas but at the cost of lower specificities (97% and 93%, respectively), whereas the serial-testing interpretation (applied when both assays produced a positive result) maximized the specificity to 100% for both SAC species, although the sensitivities were 57% for alpacas and 65% for llamas. Over 95% of the animals with evidence of TB failed to produce skin test reactions, thus confirming concerns about the validity of this method for testing SAC. The findings suggest that serological assays may offer a more accurate and practical alternative for antemortem detection of camelid TB.

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