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Prev Vet Med. 2012 Apr 1;104(1-2):160-4. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2011.10.005. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Performance of immunochromatographic and ELISA tests for detecting fallow deer infected with Mycobacterium bovis.

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Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n., 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain.


Fallow deer (Dama dama) are widely distributed as natural or naturalised populations, as well as in game parks and deer farms. We used 157 fallow deer sampled in populations considered to be Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) free and 73 Mycobacterium bovis-infected fallow deer confirmed postmortem by culture to evaluate the diagnostic performance of two tests for the detection of anti-mycobacterial antibodies: the dual path platform (DPP) VetTB assay and the bovine purified protein derivative (bPPD) ELISA. We also compared their sensitivity with that of the skin test, analyzed the effect of haemolysis degree on the antibody detection and described the relationship between the test readings and presence/absence of gross tuberculosis (TB) compatible lesions. Sensitivity of bPPD ELISA was 51% at a specificity of 96%. Depending on the cut-off value selected, the sensitivity of DPP VetTB ranged from 62 to 71%, while its specificity was 88-95%. In the subgroup of M. bovis-infected deer for which the skin test data were available (33 of 73); this method detected 76% of culture-positive animals, although the specificity of the intradermal test was not determined in this study. When the DPP VetTB and skin test data were combined, the resulting sensitivity obtained in this sub-group of M. bovis-infected deer increased to 97%. Gross pathology identified TB compatible lesions (TBL) in 89% culture-confirmed fallow deer. The infected animals with visible lesions had significantly higher readings in the DPP VetTB, but not in the bPPD ELISA. Only high levels of haemolysis decreased antibody test sensitivity and this effect was more evident for the bPPD ELISA. The results allowed inferring a number of management recommendations for rapid detection of MTC infection in live fallow deer and in surveys on hunter-harvested cervids.

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