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1.  Diverse Cytokine Profile from Mesenteric Lymph Node Cells of Cull Cows Severely Affected with Johne's Disease▿ 
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, the causative agent of Johne's disease, is able to dampen or distort immune responses at the mucosal sites and coexist with a massive infiltration of immune cells in the gastrointestinal tract. Knowledge of the mechanism by which M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis subverts the immune response at the mucosal level in cattle is important for the development of improved disease control strategies, including new vaccines and diagnostic tests. In this study, 38 cull cows from herds infected with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis were divided into four groups, based on M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis culture from gut tissues and histopathological lesion scores. Cytokine gene expression and secretion from M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis sonicate-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) and mesenteric lymph node (MLN) cultures of the animals were compared. Antigen stimulation of MLN cells from the severely lesioned group resulted in significant upregulation of the mRNA expression of five cytokines, gamma interferon (IFN-γ), interleukin-10 (IL-10), IL-13, IL-17A, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which have a diverse range of functions, while there was no significant upregulation of these cytokines by the other groups. There were major differences between the responses of the PBMC and MLN cultures, with higher levels of secreted IFN-γ released from the MLN cultures and, conversely, higher levels of IL-10 released from the PBMC cultures. The upregulation of all five cytokines from cells at the site of infection in the severely lesioned animals suggested a dysregulated immune response, contributing to a failure to clear infection in this group of animals.
PMCID: PMC3165227  PMID: 21795461
2.  Evaluation of a Rapid Fecal PCR Test for Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Dairy Cattle▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;13(10):1125-1130.
A high-throughput TaqMan PCR assay for detection of bovine paratuberculosis was evaluated by using fecal samples from 1,808 dairy cattle in seven naturally infected herds and 347 dairy cattle in seven herds considered free of paratuberculosis. Fecal, blood, and milk samples were submitted to laboratories where the PCR-based assay, three different fecal culture procedures for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (centrifugation, sedimentation, and the BACTEC filter concentration method), two serologic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), and one milk ELISA were performed. Results from testing of dairy cattle in herds free of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis showed that the PCR assay's specificity was 99.7%. Twenty-three percent of the dairy cows that were fecal culture positive by at least one of the three methods were positive by the PCR assay. By Bayesian non-“gold standard” analysis methods, the TaqMan PCR assay had a higher specificity than the serum ELISAs (99.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 98.6 to 99.7%) and a test sensitivity similar to that of the serum ELISAs (29%; 95% CI = 24 to 35%). By classical methods, the estimated relative sensitivity of the fecal PCR assay was 4% for light and moderate fecal shedders (compared to 12 to 13% for the ELISAs) and 76% for heavy fecal shedders (compared to 67% for the milk ELISA). The PCR assay has higher sensitivity for detection of heavy fecal shedders than the evaluated milk ELISA but lower sensitivity than a serum or milk ELISA for detection of light and moderate fecal shedders. This assay can be used as a quick test for detection of cattle with heavy fecal shedding, those cattle with the highest risk of transmitting infection to susceptible cattle.
PMCID: PMC1595318  PMID: 16928884
3.  Characterization of Novel Coding Sequences Specific to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis: Implications for Diagnosis of Johne's Disease 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(6):2675-2681.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis is the causative agent of Johne's Disease, an economically important intestinal ailment of ruminants. Due to the considerable genetic and serologic cross-reactivity with closely related and ubiquitous members of the M. avium complex, a species-specific method for the serological diagnosis of Johne's disease is unavailable. Computational and PCR-based analysis of the complete genome sequence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis led to the identification of 13 open reading frames with no identifiable homologs. One of these sequences is a putative insertion element present in six copies on the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis genome. These novel M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis genes were cloned into Escherichia coli expression vectors, and nine were successfully expressed as recombinant fusion proteins. Five of these proteins were purified in sufficient amounts to allow immunoblot analyses of their reactivity with sera from naturally infected cattle as well as mice and rabbits exposed to M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. Fusion proteins representing MAP0862, MAP3732c, and MAP2963c were recognized by nearly all of the sera tested, including those from cattle in the clinical stages of disease. Notably, further analysis of the protein encoded by MAP0862 showed that it reacted with sera from additional infected cattle but not with sera from uninfected control animals. The fusion product of MAP0860c did not react with any of the sera tested, while the remaining four proteins were variably recognized by sera from M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected cattle. Collectively, the results of this study demonstrate the utility of genomic data to identify potential diagnostic sequences.
PMCID: PMC427819  PMID: 15184451
4.  Demographics of cattle positive for Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis by faecal culture, from submissions to the Cork Regional Veterinary Laboratory 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2009;62(6):398-405.
The demography of bovine infections caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) in Ireland is poorly defined. The objective of this study was to describe the demographics of cattle positive to MAP on faecal culture, based on submissions to the Cork Regional Veterinary Laboratory (Cork RVL) from 1994 to 2006. The study focused on all available faecal samples from adult cattle with non-responsive chronic diarrhoea that were submitted by private veterinary practitioners to Cork RVL for MAP culture. For each MAP-positive by faecal culture animal, data were collated from Cork RVL and Cattle Movement Monitoring Scheme (CMMS) records. Johne's disease (JD) was confirmed in 110 animals from 86 herds by the Cork RVL between 1994 and 2006, with a rate of positive cases between 15% and 18% over last four years of the study. Two breeds (Holstein/Friesian or Limousin) made up 78% of submissions. Movements were assessed for the 57 study animals with available movement information, 90% died within one year of the test and 26% tested positive in the herd they were born into. The study provides preliminary information about movement trends and demographics of animals with MAP positive submissions. Although the study area is restricted, it includes the most intensive (and economically-important) dairy region in Ireland. The demographics of JD infection from the study area are in agreement with international reports. Further work is required to determine demographic trends, incidence and prevalence of JD throughout Ireland. It is hoped this work may contribute to the development of a surveillance strategy for MAP by regional veterinary laboratories.
PMCID: PMC3113751  PMID: 21851736
cattle demographics; cattle movements; faecal culture; Johne's disease; laboratory submissions; network diagram; retrospective data
5.  Comparison of milk culture, direct and nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with fecal culture based on samples from dairy herds infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis 
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the etiologic agent of Johne’s disease in cattle and other farm ruminants, and is also a suspected pathogen of Crohn’s disease in humans. Development of diagnostic methods for MAP infection has been a challenge over the last few decades. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between different methods for detection of MAP in milk and fecal samples. A total of 134 milk samples and 110 feces samples were collected from 146 individual cows in 14 MAP-infected herds in southwestern Ontario. Culture, IS900 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and nested PCR methods were used for detecting MAP in milk; results were compared with those of fecal culture. A significant relationship was found between milk culture, direct PCR, and nested PCR (P < 0.05). The fecal culture results were not related to any of the 3 assay methods used for the milk samples (P > 0.10). Although fecal culture showed a higher sensitivity than the milk culture method, the difference was not significant (P = 0.2473). The number of MAP colony-forming units (CFU) isolated by culture from fecal samples was, on average, higher than that isolated from milk samples (P = 0.0083). There was no significant correlation between the number of CFU cultured from milk and from feces (Pearson correlation coefficient = 0.1957, N = 63, P = 0.1243). The animals with high numbers of CFU in milk culture may not be detected by fecal culture at all, and vise versa. A significant proportion (29% to 41%) of the positive animals would be missed if only 1 culture method, instead of both milk and feces, were to be used for diagnosis. This suggests that the shedding of MAP in feces and milk is not synchronized. Most of the infected cows were low-level shedders. The proportion of low-level shedders may even be underestimated because MAP is killed during decontamination, thus reducing the chance of detection. Therefore, to identify suspected Johne’s-infected animals using the tests in this study, both milk and feces samples should be collected in duplicate to enhance the diagnostic rate. The high MAP kill rate identified in the culture methods during decontamination may be compensated for by using the nested PCR method, which had a higher sensitivity than the IS900 PCR method used.
PMCID: PMC2613598  PMID: 19337397
6.  Molecular Epidemiology of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in a Longitudinal Study of Three Dairy Herds▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(3):893-901.
The objective of this study was to evaluate whether cows that were low shedders of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis were passively shedding or truly infected with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. We also investigated whether it is possible that these M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected animals could have been infected as adults by contemporary high-shedding animals (supershedders). The M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates were obtained from a longitudinal study of three dairy herds in the northeastern United States. Isolates were selected from fecal samples and tissues at slaughter from all animals that were culture positive at the same time that supershedders were present in the herds. Shedding levels (CFU of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis/g of feces) for the animals at each culture-positive occasion were determined. Using a multilocus short-sequence-repeat technique, we found 15 different strains of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis from a total of 142 isolates analyzed. Results indicated herd-specific infection patterns; there was a clonal infection in herd C, with 89% of isolates from animals sharing the same strain, whereas herds A and B showed several different strains infecting the animals at the same time. Tissues from 80% of cows with at least one positive fecal culture (other than supershedders) were culture positive, indicating a true M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection. The results of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strain typing and observed shedding levels showed that at least 50% of low shedders have the same strain as that of a contemporary supershedder. Results of this study suggest that in a dairy herd, more of the low-shedding cows are truly infected with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis than are passively shedding M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. The sharing of strains between low shedders and the contemporary supershedders suggests that low shedders may have been infected by environmental exposure of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3067694  PMID: 21209171
7.  Evaluation of combined high-efficiency DNA extraction and real-time PCR for detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in subclinically infected dairy cattle: comparison with faecal culture, milk real-time PCR and milk ELISA 
Johne’s disease is caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map) and it is one of the most important diseases in cattle worldwide. Several laboratory tests for Map detection are available; however, these are limited by inadequate sensitivity and specificity when used in subclinically infected populations. To identify Map shedders in subclinically infected cattle, we used a new, high-yield method for DNA-extraction from Map in faeces combined with quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) for amplification of the insertion sequence IS900 of Map (HYDEqPCR). Evaluation of HYDEqPCR was carried out in comparison with faecal culture, milk qPCR, and milk enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), on 141 faecal and 91 milk samples, from 141 subclinically infected dairy cattle.
The qPCR proved to be highly sensitive, with a detection limit of 2 IS900 DNA copies/μl in 67 % of the reactions. It also showed 100 % specificity, as determined from 50 Map and non-Map strains, and by the sequencing of qPCR amplicons. The detection limit of HYDEqPCR was 90 Map/g Map-spiked faeces, which corresponds to 2.4 colony forming units/g Map-spiked faeces, with an estimated efficiency of 85 % (±21 %). When tested on the field samples, HYDEqPCR showed 89 % of the samples as positive for Map, whereas faecal culture, milk qPCR, and milk ELISA detected 19 %, 36 % and 1 %, respectively. Fisher’s exact tests only show statistical significance (p ≤0.05) for the correlation between HYDEqPCR and faecal culture. The agreement between HYDEqPCR and milk qPCR and milk ELISA was poor, slight, and non-significant.
This study highlights the advantages of HYDEqPCR for detection of Map in subclinically infected populations, in comparison with faecal culture, milk qPCR and milk ELISA. HYDEqPCR can detect low-level Map shedders that go undetected using these other methods, which will thus underestimate the proportions of Map-shedders in herds. Identification of these shedding animals is extremely important for prevention of the spread of Map infection in an animal population. Due to the relatively high sensitivity and specificity of HYDEqPCR, it can be applied to test for Map at the herd or individual level, regardless of animal age or production stage. HYDEqPCR will allow early detection and control of Map in any population at risk.
PMCID: PMC3423054  PMID: 22551054
8.  Occurrence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Untreated Water in Northern Ireland 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(11):7107-7112.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis is the known cause of Johne's disease of both domestic and wild ruminants and has been implicated as a possible cause of Crohn's disease in humans. The organism is shed in the feces of infected animals and can survive for protracted periods in the environment and hence could be present in catchment areas receiving agricultural runoff. A limited survey was undertaken in Northern Ireland to test for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in untreated water entering nine water treatment works (WTWs) over a 1-year period. Three detection methods were employed, viz., immunomagnetic separation-PCR and culture on Herrold's egg yolk medium (HEYM) and BACTEC 12B medium, the latter both supplemented with mycobactins. Of the 192 untreated water samples tested, 15 (8%) tested M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis positive by one or more of the three detection methods. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was successfully isolated from eight untreated water samples, three by BACTEC culture and five by culture on HEYM. Although the highest incidence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was found in spring, overall, there was no statistically significant difference between the seasons. No significant correlation was found between numbers of coliforms or fecal coliforms and the presence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. In general, a higher incidence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was found in untreated water entering those WTWs that had a high mean water pH value over the sampling period. This work indicates the need to determine the efficacy of water treatment processes to either kill or remove M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis from untreated water and the possible risks posed by contact with recreational water sources.
PMCID: PMC1287693  PMID: 16269747
9.  Highly Specific and Quick Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Feces and Gut Tissue of Cattle and Humans by Multiple Real-Time PCR Assays▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1843-1852.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis is the causative agent of Johne's disease (JD) in cattle and may be associated with Crohn's disease (CD) in humans. It is the slowest growing of the cultivable mycobacteria, and culture from clinical, veterinary, food, or environmental specimens can take 4 months or even longer. Currently, the insertion element IS900 is used to detect M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA. However, closely related IS900 elements are also present in other mycobacteria, thus limiting its specificity as a target. Here we describe the use of novel primer sets derived from the sequences of two highly specific single copy genes, MAP2765c and MAP0865, for the quantitative detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis within 6 h by using real-time PCR. Specificity of the target was established using 40 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates, 67 different bacterial species, and two intestinal parasites. Using the probes and methods described, we detected 27 (2.09%) M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-positive stool specimens from 1,293 individual stool samples by the use of either IS900 or probes deriving from the MAP2765c and MAP0865 genes described here. In general, bacterial load due to M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was uniformly low in these samples and we estimated 500 to 5,000 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis bacteria per gram of stool in assay-positive samples. Thus, the methods described here are useful for rapid and specific detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in clinical samples.
PMCID: PMC3122678  PMID: 21430100
10.  High Genetic Diversity among Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Strains from German Cattle Herds Shown by Combination of IS900 Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis and Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Unit-Variable-Number Tandem-Repeat Typing▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(3):972-981.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis is the etiologic agent of Johne's disease and is endemic to the national cattle herds of many countries. Because of the very low level of genetic heterogeneity of this organism, it is difficult to select a workable procedure for strain differentiation at a resolution sufficient to investigate epidemiological links between herds or different ruminant species and the suggested zoonotic potential of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis for Crohn's disease. Analysis of restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) based on the insertion element IS900 (IS900 RFLP) with four restriction enzymes and 10 markers of specific mycobacterial interspersed repetitive units (MIRUs) and variable-number tandem repeats (VNTRs) was applied to 71 bovine M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates originating from 14 herds from different regions in Germany. Among these isolates, all of which belonged to the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis type II group, 17 genotypes were detected by IS900 RFLP and consisted of a combination of seven BstEII, eight PstI, nine PvuII, and four BamHI restriction patterns. Novel RFLP types were found. The diversity of the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates inside the herds was different depending on the frequency of animal purchase. The results of typing by IS900 RFLP and MIRU-VNTR analyses were not associated. Fifteen MIRU-VNTR patterns were identified with a discriminatory index of 0.905. The most common BstEII-based IS900 RFLP type, type C1 (72%), was subdivided into 14 types by MIRU-VNTR analysis. A combination of fingerprinting and PCR-based techniques resulted in 24 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis genotypes and achieved a discriminatory index of 0.997. By using only BstEII and PstI digestion together with typing by MIRU-VNTR analysis, a discriminatory index of 0.993 was achieved. This is high enough to support epidemiological studies on a national as well as a global scale.
PMCID: PMC2268378  PMID: 18174306
11.  Contrasting Results of Culture-Dependent and Molecular Analyses of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis from Wood Bison 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(14):4448-4454.
Reduced to near extinction in the late 1800s, a number of wood bison populations (Bison bison athabascae) have been re-established through reintroduction initiatives. Although an invaluable tool for conservation, translocation of animals can spread infectious agents to new areas or expose animals to pathogens in their new environment. Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, a bacterium that causes chronic enteritis in ruminants, is among the pathogens of potential concern for wood bison management and conservation. In order to inform translocation decisions, our objectives were to determine the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection status of wood bison herds in Canada and to culture and genetically characterize the infective strain(s). We tested fecal samples from bison (n = 267) in nine herds using direct PCR for three M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-specific genetic targets with different copy numbers within the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis genome. Restriction enzyme analysis (REA) and sequencing of IS1311 were performed on seven samples from five different herds. We also evaluated a panel of different culture conditions for their ability to support M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis growth from feces and tissues of direct-PCR-positive animals. Eighty-one fecal samples (30%) tested positive using direct IS900 PCR, with positive samples from all nine herds; of these, 75% and 21% were also positive using ISMAP02 and F57, respectively. None of the culture conditions supported the growth of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis from PCR-positive samples. IS1311 REA and sequencing indicate that at least two different M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strain types exist in Canadian wood bison. The presence of different M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains among wood bison herds should be considered in the planning of translocations.
PMCID: PMC3697503  PMID: 23686265
12.  Longitudinal study of the distribution of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in the environment of dairy herds in the Michigan Johne’s disease control demonstration herd project 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  2009;50(10):1039-1046.
The objective of this study was to describe the distribution of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in the environment of infected dairy farms over time. Johne’s disease (JD) prevalence was monitored annually in 7 Michigan dairy herds. Environmental samples were collected bi-annually and cultured for MAP. Of 731 environmental samples that were cultured, 81 (11%) were positive. The lactating cow floor and manure storage areas were the areas most commonly contaminated, representing 30% and 33% of positive samples, respectively. When herd prevalence was > 2%, MAP was cultured from the lactating cow floor and/or manure storage area 75% of the time. When herd prevalence was ≤ 2%, MAP was never cultured from samples collected. For every 1 unit increase in number of positive environmental samples, within herd JD prevalence increased 1.62%. Environmental contamination with MAP is consistent over time on infected dairy farms, and management practices to reduce environmental contamination are warranted.
PMCID: PMC2748284  PMID: 20046602
13.  Comparative analysis of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates from cattle, sheep and goats by short sequence repeat and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis typing 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:204.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map) causes the chronic enteritis called paratuberculosis mainly in cattle, sheep and goats. Evidences that point out an association between Map and Crohn's Disease in humans are increasing. Strain differentiation among Map isolates has proved to be difficult and has limited the study of the molecular epidemiology of paratuberculosis. In order to asses the usefulness of the PCR based short sequence repeat (SSR) analysis of locus 1 and locus 8 in the epidemiological tracing of paratuberculosis strains we here compare for the first time the results of SSR and SnaBI-SpeI pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) typing methods in a set of 268 Map isolates from different hosts (cattle, sheep, goats, bison, deer and wild boar).
A total of nineteen different multi-locus SSR (SSR1_SSR8) types were identified amongst the 268 isolates compared to the 37 multiplex profiles differentiated by the SnaBI-SpeI PFGE. SSR type 7_4 was the predominant genotype (51.2% of all isolates and 54.3% of cattle isolates), but combined with PFGE results the abundance of the most prevalent genotype (7_4&{2-1}) dropped down to 37.7%. SSR types 7_3 and 14_3 were significantly spread amongst isolates recovered from small ruminants. The comparison of SSR1_SSR8 and SnaBI-SpeI PFGE typing of these isolates has shown that both methods perform at similar discriminatory level. These were 0.691 and 0.693, respectively for SSR and PFGE as indicated Simpson's Index of Diversity, and 0.82 when calculated for combined SSR and PFGE genotypes. Overall, SSR1_SSR8 analysis seemed to detect higher levels of within-farm strain diversity and seemed to give higher year-related information. Combination of both typing methods revealed 20 multi-type farms out of the 33 bovine farms studied with more than one isolate.
The particular SSR and PFGE typing approaches described here are in general agreement but they showed some discrepancies that might reflect differing evolutionary processes of Map strains. Both methods are able to reciprocally complement their results and neither should be replaced with the other if sufficient material and time is available. Overall, the results of our comparative analyses suggest that, based on current methodologies available, a combined approach that includes SSR and PFGE seems to provide the highest level of discrimination for Map strain typing with meaningful epidemiological information.
PMCID: PMC2605457  PMID: 19032737
14.  Evaluation of a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for Johne's disease. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1991;29(2):272-276.
A new commercial kit for diagnosis of bovine paratuberculosis (Johne's disease), called the Johne's Absorbed EIA (enzyme immunoassay; Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Parkville, Victoria, Australia), was evaluated by using serum specimens from the National Repository for Paratuberculosis Specimens. The evaluation was specifically designed to measure test sensitivity and specificity for detection of dairy cattle with subclinical paratuberculosis. The case definition of subclinical bovine paratuberculosis was isolation of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis from fecal samples or internal organs of cattle without diarrhea or chronic weight loss. Animals designed as free of the disease originated exclusively from four herds in Wisconsin that were certified to be free of disease. The kit had a sensitivity of 47.3% for serum specimens from 150 infected cattle. The test detected 59.7% of animals that shed M. paratuberculosis in their feces, as defined by conventional fecal culture, at the time of serum collection. Testing of 196 serum specimens from cattle without paratuberculosis yielded two false-positive results; the test specificity was thus 99.0%. Decision analysis procedures on the economics of using the kit in a test-and-cull disease control program indicated it would be cost-effective in any herd with a true paratuberculosis prevalence of greater than or equal to 3%. Comparison of the sensitivity and specificity of the Johne's Absorbed EIA with those of other tests for detection of subclinical paratuberculosis indicated that it may be the most accurate commercially available test at present and better than standard complement fixation test used in the United States.
PMCID: PMC269752  PMID: 2007634
15.  Comparison of Four Different Culture Media for Isolation and Growth of Type II and Type I/III Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Strains Isolated from Cattle and Goats 
Culture is considered the definitive technique for Johne's disease diagnosis, and it is essential for later applications of certain molecular typing techniques. In this study, we have tested four solid media (Herrold's egg yolk medium [HEYM] with sodium pyruvate and mycobactin [HEYMm-SP], HEYM with mycobactin and without sodium pyruvate [HEYMm], Middlebrook 7H11 with mycobactin [Mm], and Löwenstein-Jensen with mycobactin [LJm]) for isolation of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains in 319 tissue samples from cattle herds and goat flocks. We have shown that each of the two main groups of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (type II and type I/III) has different requirements for growth in the culture media studied. The recommended solid media for isolation of type I/III strains are LJm and Mm, since the combination of both media allowed the recovery of all these strains. The most widespread culture medium, HEYM, is not suitable for the isolation of this group of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains. Regarding the type II strains, HEYMm-SP was the medium where more strains were isolated, but the other three media are also needed in order to recover all type II strains. The incubation period is also related to the strain type. In conclusion, because the type of strain cannot be known in advance of culture, coupled with the fact that cattle and goats can be infected with both groups of strains, we recommend the use of the four solid media and the prolongation of the incubation period to more than 6 months to detect paratuberculous herds/flocks and to determine the true prevalence of the infection.
PMCID: PMC1563672  PMID: 16957212
16.  Whole-Genome Plasticity among Mycobacterium avium Subspecies: Insights from Comparative Genomic Hybridizations†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(2):711-723.
Infection with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis causes Johne's disease in cattle and is also implicated in cases of Crohn's disease in humans. Another closely related strain, M. avium subsp. avium, is a health problem for immunocompromised patients. To understand the molecular pathogenesis of M. avium subspecies, we analyzed the genome contents of isolates collected from humans and domesticated or wildlife animals. Comparative genomic hybridizations indicated distinct lineages for each subspecies where the closest genomic relatedness existed between M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates collected from human and clinical cow samples. Genomic islands (n = 24) comprising 846 kb were present in the reference M. avium subsp. avium strain but absent from 95% of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates. Additional analysis identified a group of 18 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-associated islands comprising 240 kb that were absent from most of the M. avium subsp. avium isolates. Sequence analysis of DNA regions flanking the genomic islands identified three large inversions in addition to several small inversions that could play a role in regulation of gene expression. Analysis of genes encoded in the genomic islands reveals factors that are probably important for various mechanisms of virulence. Overall, M. avium subsp. avium isolates displayed a higher level of genomic diversity than M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates. Among M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates, those from wildlife animals displayed the highest level of genomic rearrangements that were not observed in other isolates. The presented findings will affect the future design of diagnostics and vaccines for Johne's and Crohn's diseases and provide a model for genomic analysis of closely related bacteria.
PMCID: PMC1347307  PMID: 16385061
17.  Rapid and Sensitive Method To Identify Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Cow's Milk by DNA Methylase Genotyping 
Paratuberculosis is an infectious, chronic, and incurable disease that affects ruminants, caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis. This bacterium is shed primarily through feces of infected cows but can be also excreted in colostrum and milk and might survive pasteurization. Since an association of genomic sequences of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in patients with Crohn's disease has been described; it is of interest to rapidly detect M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in milk for human consumption. IS900 insertion is used as a target for PCR amplification to identify the presence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in biological samples. Two target sequences were selected: IS1 (155 bp) and IS2 (94 bp). These fragments have a 100% identity among all M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains sequenced. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was specifically concentrated from milk samples by immunomagnetic separation prior to performing PCR. The amplicons were characterized using DNA methylase Genotyping, i.e., the amplicons were methylated with 6-methyl-adenine and digested with restriction enzymes to confirm their identity. The methylated amplicons from 100 CFU of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis can be visualized in a Western blot format using an anti-6-methyl-adenine monoclonal antibody. The use of DNA methyltransferase genotyping coupled to a scintillation proximity assay allows for the detection of up to 10 CFU of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis per ml of milk. This test is rapid and sensitive and allows for automation and thus multiple samples can be tested at the same time.
PMCID: PMC3591958  PMID: 23275511
18.  Risk factors for the introduction and within-herd transmission of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection on 59 Irish dairy herds 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2008;61(7):464-467.
Since 1994, Irish cattle have been exposed to greater risks of acquiring Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection as a consequence of the importation of over 70,000 animals from continental Europe. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of reported clinical cases of paratuberculosis in Ireland. This study examines the prevalence of factors that promote the introduction and within-herd transmission of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) on selected Irish dairy farms in the Cork region, and the association between these factors and the results of MAP screening tests on milk sock filter residue (MFR). A total of 59 dairy farms, selected using non-random methods but apparently free of endemic paratuberculosis, were enrolled into the study. A questionnaire was used to collect data about risk factors for MAP introduction and transmission. The MFR was assessed on six occasions over 24 months for the presence of MAP, using culture and immunomagnetic separation prior to polymerase chain reaction (IMS-PCR). Furthermore, blood samples from all entire male and female animals over one year of age in 20 herds were tested by ELISA. Eighteen (31%) farms had operated as closed herds since 1994, 28 (47%) had purchased from multiple sources and 14 (24%) had either direct or indirect (progeny) contact with imported animals. Milk and colostrum were mixed on 51% of farms, while 88% of farms fed pooled milk. Thirty (51%) herds tested negative to MFR culture and IMS-PCR, 12 (20%) were MFR culture positive, 26 (44%) were IMS-PCR positive and seven (12%) were both culture and IMS-PCR positive. The probability of a positive MFR culture was significantly associated with reduced attendance at calving, and with increased use of individual calf pens and increased (but not significantly) if mulitiple suckling was practised. There was poor agreement between MFR culture and MFR IMS-PCR results, but moderate agreement between MFR culture and ELISA test results. This study highlights a lack of awareness among Irish dairy farmers about the effect of inadequate biosecurity on MAP introduction. Furthermore, within-herd transmission will be facilitated by traditional calf rearing and waste management practices. The findings of viable MAP in the presence of known transmission factors in non-clinically affected herds could be a prelude to long-term problems for the Irish cattle and agri-business generally.
PMCID: PMC3113868  PMID: 21851718
culture; dairy farms; IMS-PCR; Johne's disease; milk filter; paratuberculosis; risk factor
19.  Molecular Epidemiology of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis: Evidence for Limited Strain Diversity, Strain Sharing, and Identification of Unique Targets for Diagnosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(5):2015-2026.
The objectives of this study were to understand the molecular diversity of animal and human strains of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolated in the United States and to identify M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-specific diagnostic molecular markers to aid in disease detection, prevention, and control. Multiplex PCR of IS900 integration loci (MPIL) and amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analyses were used to fingerprint M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates recovered from animals (n = 203) and patients with Crohn's disease (n = 7) from diverse geographic localities. Six hundred bacterial cultures, including M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (n = 303), non-M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis mycobacteria (n = 129), and other nonmycobacterial species (n = 168), were analyzed to evaluate the specificity of two IS900 integration loci and a newly described M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-specific sequence (locus 251) as potential targets for the diagnosis of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. MPIL fingerprint analysis revealed that 78% of bovine origin M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates clustered together into a major node, whereas isolates from human and ovine sources showed greater genetic diversity. MPIL analysis also showed that the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates from ovine and bovine sources from the same state were more closely associated than were isolates from different geographic regions, suggesting that some of the strains are shared between these ruminant species. AFLP fingerprinting revealed a similar pattern, with most isolates from bovine sources clustering into two major nodes, while those recovered from sheep or humans were clustered on distinct branches. Overall, this study identified a high degree of genetic similarity between M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains recovered from cows regardless of geographic origin. Further, the results of our analyses reveal a relatively higher degree of genetic heterogeneity among M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates recovered from human and ovine sources.
PMCID: PMC154725  PMID: 12734243
20.  Diagnosis and Molecular Characterization of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis from Dairy Cows in Colombia 
The objective of this study was the serological, bacteriological and molecular diagnosis, as well as the molecular characterization of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map) in adult cows of five Colombian dairy herds. Serum samples were tested by an indirect absorbed enzyme–linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA-C). All fecal samples were tested by pooled culture. After that, fecal samples of Map positive pools were tested individually by culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In one herd, slurry and tissue samples from one animal were also taken and tested by PCR and culture. Map isolates were analyzed by the Multilocus Short Sequence Repeat (MLSSR) and the Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Units-Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (MIRU-VNTR) methods. ELISA produced positive results in 1.8% (6/329) of the animals and 40% (2/5) of the herds. Four fecal, two tissue, and two slurry samples from a herd were Map positive by culture and PCR. MLSSR and MIRU-VNTR revealed two different strain profiles among eight Map isolates recovered. This study reports the first molecular characterization of Map in one dairy herd in Colombia, the limitations for individual diagnosis of subclinical Map infections in cattle, and the usefulness of pooled fecal samples and environmental sampling for Map diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3135014  PMID: 21785685
21.  Rapid and Sensitive Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Bovine Milk and Feces by a Combination of Immunomagnetic Bead Separation-Conventional PCR and Real-Time PCR 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(3):1075-1081.
Immunomagnetic bead separation coupled with bead beating and real-time PCR was found to be a very effective procedure for the isolation, separation, and detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis from milk and/or fecal samples from cattle and American bison. Samples were spiked with M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis organisms, which bound to immunomagnetic beads and were subsequently lysed by bead beating; then protein and cellular contaminants were removed by phenol-chloroform-isopropanol extraction prior to DNA precipitation. DNA purified by this sequence of procedures was then analyzed by conventional and real-time IS900-based PCR in order to detect M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in feces and milk. By use of this simple and rapid technique, 10 or fewer M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis organisms were consistently detected in milk (2-ml) and fecal (200-mg) samples, making this sensitive procedure very useful and cost-effective for the diagnosis of clinical and subclinical Johne's disease (paratuberculosis) compared to bacteriological culture, which is constrained by time, labor, and expense under diagnostic laboratory conditions.
PMCID: PMC356818  PMID: 15004056
22.  Persistence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis at a Farm-Scale Biogas Plant Supplied with Manure from Paratuberculosis-Affected Dairy Cattle▿ 
In this study, products from all steps of anaerobic digestion at a farm-scale biogas plant supplied with manure from paratuberculosis-affected dairy cattle were examined and quantified for the presence of the causal agent of paratuberculosis, Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, using culture and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Viable M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells were detected using culture in fermentors for up to 2 months; the presence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA (101 cells/g) was demonstrated in all anaerobic fermentors and digestate 16 months after initiation of work at a biogas plant, using IS900 qPCR. F57 qPCR was able to detect M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA (102 cells/g) at up to 12 months. According to these results, a fermentation process that extended beyond 2 months removed all viable M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells and therefore rendered its product M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis free. However, M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA was found during all the examined periods (more than 1 year), which could be explained by either residual DNA being released from dead cells or by the presence of viable cells whose amount was under the limit of cultivability. As the latter hypothesis cannot be excluded, the safety of the final products of digestion used for fertilization or animal bedding cannot be defined, and further investigation is necessary to confirm or refute this risk.
PMCID: PMC3126395  PMID: 21398476
23.  Culture Phenotypes of Genomically and Geographically Diverse Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Isolates from Different Hosts▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1822-1830.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis causes paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) in ruminants in most countries. Historical data suggest substantial differences in culturability of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates from small ruminants and cattle; however, a systematic comparison of culture media and isolates from different countries and hosts has not been undertaken. Here, 35 field isolates from the United States, Spain, Northern Ireland, and Australia were propagated in Bactec 12B medium and Middlebrook 7H10 agar, genomically characterized, and subcultured to Lowenstein-Jensen (LJ), Herrold's egg yolk (HEY), modified Middlebrook 7H10, Middlebrook 7H11, and Watson-Reid (WR) agars, all with and without mycobactin J and some with sodium pyruvate. Fourteen genotypes of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis were represented as determined by BstEII IS900 and IS1311 restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. There was no correlation between genotype and overall culturability, although most S strains tended to grow poorly on HEY agar. Pyruvate was inhibitory to some isolates. All strains grew on modified Middlebrook 7H10 agar but more slowly and less prolifically on LJ agar. Mycobactin J was required for growth on all media except 7H11 agar, but growth was improved by the addition of mycobactin J to 7H11 agar. WR agar supported the growth of few isolates. The differences in growth of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis that have historically been reported in diverse settings have been strongly influenced by the type of culture medium used. When an optimal culture medium, such as modified Middlebrook 7H10 agar, is used, very little difference between the growth phenotypes of diverse strains of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was observed. This optimal medium is recommended to remove bias in the isolation and cultivation of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3122651  PMID: 21430104
24.  Effectiveness of combination of Mini-and Microsatellite loci to sub-type Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Italian type C isolates 
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map) is the etiological agent of paratuberculosis. The aim of our study was to combine Mini-and Microsatellite loci analysis in order to explore the effectiveness of this sub-typing method in a group of Map isolates. For this purpose, 84 Italian Type C Map isolates, each from a different cattle herd, were submitted to MIRU-Variable-Number Tandem-Repeats (VNTRs) typing and Short Sequence repeats (SSRs) sequencing. Moreover, the method was used to analyse the variability inside 10 herds (from three to 50 isolates per herd).
The molecular sub-typing, carried out using three SSR and 10 MIRU-VNTR loci, differentiated the 84 isolates into 33 clusters, reaching a Simpson's Discriminatory Index (SID) value of 0.952 (0.933 to 0.972, 95% confidence intervals). Among all considered loci, six (SSR2, MIRU2, SSR1, SSR8, VNTR3527 and VNTR1067) showed relevant allelic variability. Thirty-eight% of the isolates were clustered into four genotypes, differing from each other for the SSR2 locus. The other isolates, characterised by differences in two or more loci, were spread among the rest of the clusters. The intra-herd analysis revealed more than one genotype in most herds with a similar distribution of clusters.
Our results revealed the advantage of using both Mini-and Microsatellite approaches for successfully discriminating among Map Type C isolates from the same geographic area, host species and herd. These data suggest that the combination of loci here proposed could be a useful molecular tool for regional epidemiological studies.
PMCID: PMC3182896  PMID: 21929793
25.  Immunological and Molecular Characterization of Susceptibility in Relationship to Bacterial Strain Differences in Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Infection in the Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(6):3530-3537.
Johne's disease (JD) infection, caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, represents a major disease problem in farmed ruminants. Although JD has been well characterized in cattle and sheep, little is known of the infection dynamics or immunological response in deer. In this study, typing of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates from intestinal lymphatic tissues from 74 JD-infected animals showed that clinical isolates of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis from New Zealand farmed red deer were exclusively of the bovine strain genotype. The susceptibility of deer to M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was further investigated by experimental oral-route infection studies using defined isolates of virulent bovine and ovine M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains. Oral inoculation with high (109 CFU/animal) or medium (107 CFU/animal) doses of the bovine strain of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis established 100% infection rates, compared to 69% infection following inoculation with a medium dose of the ovine strain. The high susceptibility of deer to the bovine strain of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was confirmed by a 50% infection rate following experimental inoculation with a low dose of bacteria (103 CFU/animal). This study is the first to report experimental M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection in red deer, and it outlines the strong infectivity of bovine-strain M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates for cervines.
PMCID: PMC1479287  PMID: 16714585

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