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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2012 Aug 15;148(3-4):369-72. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2012.06.020. Epub 2012 Jun 23.

Evaluation of the interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) assay to diagnose Mycobacterium bovis infection in pigs.

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Department of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Mycobacterium bovis recognizes as hosts a wide spectrum of animal species. In particular epidemiological situations, high prevalence of infection is found also in pigs. In the present study, we evaluated the capability of the interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) assay to identify pigs infected with M. bovis. The results of the immune-diagnosis were correlated to the findings of the post mortem inspection and the bacterial culture of lymph nodes. Blood samples of 146 pigs, belonging to a local breed of Sicily reared in free or semi-free roaming conditions, were collected to assess the specificity and the sensibility of the IFN-γ assay. Thirty-one pigs, from M. bovis free herds, did not react to the IFN-γ assay, yielding a specificity of 100%. The IFN-γ assay identified 15 out of 19 animals positive to the bacterial culture and 22 out of 26 animals with tuberculous lesions, with a sensibility of 78.9-84.6%, respectively. Out of 26 reactors to the test, 15 pigs (57.7%) confirmed to be infected after the bacterial culture and 22 (84.6%) had tuberculous lesions. The IFN-γ assay was able to reveal 4 animals with no visible lesions (NVL). Together, these findings support the feasible use of the IFN-γ assay as an intra vitam tool for the surveillance and management of M. bovis infection in swine populations.

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