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Vet Med Sci. 2019 Feb;5(1):61-69. doi: 10.1002/vms3.134. Epub 2019 Jan 18.

New serological platform for detecting antibodies against Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in European badgers.

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VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Bacteriology Department, Animal and Plant Health Agency, Addlestone, Surrey, UK.
Unidad de Inmunología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.
School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin, Ireland.
Departamento de Sanidad Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Centro de Biotecnología Animal, Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario (SERIDA), Deva-Gijón, Asturias, Spain.
SaBio Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ciudad Real, Spain.
Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.


European badgers (Meles meles) have been identified as wildlife reservoirs for Mycobacterium bovis in the UK and Ireland, and may also have a role in the epidemiology of animal tuberculosis in other European regions. Thus, detection of M. bovis-infected badgers may be required for the purposes of surveillance and monitoring of disease levels in infected populations. Current serological assays to detect M. bovis infection in live badgers, while rapid and inexpensive, show limited diagnostic sensitivity. Here we describe and evaluate new ELISA platforms for the recognition of the P22 multiprotein complex derived from the purified protein derivative (PPD) of M. bovis. The recognition of IgG against P22 multiprotein complex derived from PPD-B was tested by ELISA in the serum of badgers from the UK, Ireland and Spain. TB infection in the badgers was indicated by the presence of M. bovis in tissues by culture and histology at post-mortem examination and TB-free status was established by repeated negativity in the interferon γ release assay (IGRA). In experimentally infected badgers, humoral antibody responses against P22 developed within 45 days post-infection. The ELISA tests showed estimated sensitivity levels of 74-82% in experimentally and naturally infected badgers with specificities ranging from 75% to 100% depending on the badger population tested. The P22 multi-antigen based ELISAs provide a sensitive and specific test platform for improved tuberculosis surveillance in badgers.


Badgers; P22 ELISA; diagnosis; tuberculosis; wildlife reservoir

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