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BMC Vet Res. 2019 Mar 1;15(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s12917-019-1814-z.

Specificity of serological test for detection of tuberculosis in cattle, goats, sheep and pigs under different epidemiological situations.

Author information

VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Departamento de Sanidad Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Unidad de Inmunología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.
CZ Veterinaria S.A., Porriño, Pontevedra, Spain.
SaBio (Health and Biotechnology), Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ciudad Real, Spain.
Dpto. de Anatomía y Anatomía Patológica Comparadas, Agrifood Campus of International Excellence (ceia3), Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain.
SERIDA, Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario, Centro de Biotecnología Animal, Deva-Gijón, Asturias, Spain.
Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Sentrum, Oslo, Norway.
SaBio (Health and Biotechnology), Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ciudad Real, Spain.



Serum antibody detection has potential as a complementary diagnostic tool in animal tuberculosis (TB) control, particularly in multi-host systems. The objective of the present study was to assess the specificity (Sp) of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) based on the new multiprotein complex P22 for the detection of specific antibodies against the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) in the four most relevant domestic animals acting as MTC hosts: cattle, goat, sheep and pig. We used sera from an officially TB-free (OTF) country, Norway, and from a non-OTF one, Spain. The samples included sera from goats that had been vaccinated against M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) and sheep from a herd in which Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis had been isolated.


In cattle, the Sp ranged from 92.5 (IC95% 90.7-94) to 99.4% (IC95% 98.3-99.8) depending on the cut-off used and the origin of the samples (Spain or Norway). Sp in cattle (cut-off point 100) was significantly higher (P < 0.05) for Norwegian samples. By contrast, Sp in goats was consistently low at the 100 cut-off [30.9 (CI95%23.4-39.5)-78% (CI95% 68.9-85)]. A higher cut-off of 150 improved Sp in Norwegian goats [97% (CI95% 91.6-99)], but still yielded a poor Sp of 56.1% (CI95% 47.3-64.6) in Spanish goats. In Norway at the 100 cut-off the Sp was 58.3 (CI95% 42.2-72.9) and 90.6% (CI95% 81-95.6) in MAP vaccinated and non-vaccinated goats, respectively, indicating interference due to MAP vaccination. Sp in sheep was between 94.4 (CI95% 91.7-96.3) and 100% (CI95% 96.3-100) depending on the cut-off and country, and no diagnostic interference due to infection with C. pseudotuberculosis was recorded. Sp in pigs was 100%, regardless the cut-off point applied, and no significant differences were observed between pigs from Norway and from Spain.


Due to its excellent Sp in pigs and acceptable Sp in cattle and sheep, this ELISA may constitute a suitable option for TB screening at herd level, particularly in OTF-countries.


Animal tuberculosis; Cattle; Goat; P22; Pig; Serum antibodies; Sheep

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