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1.  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
2.  Development of a Nested PCR Method Targeting a Unique Multicopy Element, ISMap02, for Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Fecal Samples 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(9):4744-4750.
This study describes the development of a nested PCR assay that uses a unique element (ISMap02) for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis that is present at six copies within the genome. In addition, the sensitivity of the assay with this element was compared to the sensitivity of detection of the IS900 element in both conventional and real-time PCR assays. The specificity of the ISMap02 element was evaluated by PCR of the DNA extracted from isolates of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis and M. avium subsp. avium, as well as DNA from M. fortuitum, M. scofulaceum, M. phlei, M. smegmatis, and M. gordonae. Only M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA was detectable after amplification with the ISMap02 primers. The sensitivity of detection for the ISMap02 element in either a conventional or a real-time PCR format was less than 100 fg DNA or 102 CFU/ml in serial titration curves with pure bacteria. These results were comparable to those obtained for the IS900 element. Experimental spiking of a negative fecal sample followed by M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA extraction resulted in detection thresholds of 102 CFU/g for the IS900 element and 103 CFU/g for the ISMap02 element by using a real-time PCR format, but this sensitivity dropped 10-fold for both elements in a conventional PCR format. Analyses of fecal samples obtained from naturally infected animals demonstrated a sensitivity for the detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA by use of the ISMap02 element similar to that achieved by use of the IS900 element when it was used in a conventional PCR format. The real-time PCR format improved the levels of detection of both elements, but not to a significant degree. In conclusion, the ISMap02 element provides a very sensitive and specific alternative as a diagnostic reagent for use in PCR assays for the detection of paratuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC1234153  PMID: 16145136
3.  High-Throughput Direct Fecal PCR Assay for Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Sheep and Cattle 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(3):745-757.
Johne's disease (JD) is a chronic enteric disease caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis that affects ruminants. Transmission occurs by the fecal-oral route. A commonly used antemortem diagnostic test for the detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in feces is liquid culture; however, a major constraint is the 2- to 3-month incubation period needed for this method. Rapid methods for the detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis based on PCR have been reported, but comprehensive validation data are lacking. We describe here a new test, the high-throughput-Johnes (HT-J), to detect M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in feces. Its diagnostic accuracy was compared with that of liquid radiometric (Bactec) fecal culture using samples from cattle (1,330 samples from 23 herds) and sheep (596 samples from 16 flocks). The multistage protocol involves the recovery of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells from a fecal suspension, cell rupture by bead beating, extraction of DNA using magnetic beads, and IS900 quantitative PCR. The limit of detection of the assay was 0.0005 pg, and the limit of quantification was 0.005 pg M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis genomic DNA. Only M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was detected from a panel of 51 mycobacterial isolates, including 10 with IS900-like sequences. Of the 549 culture-negative fecal samples from unexposed herds and flocks, 99% were negative in the HT-J test, while 60% of the bovine- and 84% of the ovine-culture-positive samples were positive in the HT-J test. As similar total numbers of samples from M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-exposed animals were positive in culture and HT-J tests in both species, and as the results of a McNemar's test were not significant, these methods probably have similar sensitivities, but the true diagnostic sensitivities of these tests are unknown. These validation data meet the consensus-based reporting standards for diagnostic test accuracy studies for paratuberculosis and the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments (MIQE) guidelines (S. A. Bustin et al., Clin. Chem. 55:611–622, 2009, doi:10.1373/clinchem.2008.112797). The HT-J assay has been approved for use in JD control programs in Australia and New Zealand.
PMCID: PMC3957769  PMID: 24352996
4.  Development and Evaluation of a Novel Multicopy-Element-Targeting Triplex PCR for Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Feces 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(12):3757-3768.
The enteropathy called paratuberculosis (PTB), which mainly affects ruminants and has a worldwide distribution, is caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis. This disease significantly reduces the cost-effectiveness of ruminant farms, and therefore, reliable and rapid detection methods are needed to control the spread of the bacterium in livestock and in the environment. The aim of this study was to identify a specific and sensitive combination of DNA extraction and amplification to detect M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in feces. Negative bovine fecal samples were inoculated with increasing concentrations of two different bacterial strains (field and reference) to compare the performance of four extraction and five amplification protocols. The best results were obtained using the JohnePrep and MagMax extraction kits combined with an in-house triplex real-time PCR designed to detect IS900, ISMap02 (an insertion sequence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis present in 6 copies per genome), and an internal amplification control DNA simultaneously. These combinations detected 10 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells/g of spiked feces. The triplex PCR detected 1 fg of genomic DNA extracted from the reference strain K10. The performance of the robotized version of the MagMax extraction kit combined with the IS900 and ISMap02 PCR was further evaluated using 615 archival fecal samples from the first sampling of nine Friesian cattle herds included in a PTB control program and followed up for at least 4 years. The analysis of the results obtained in this survey demonstrated that the diagnostic method was highly specific and sensitive for the detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in fecal samples from cattle and a very valuable tool to be used in PTB control programs.
PMCID: PMC4054133  PMID: 24727272
5.  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
6.  Comparison of fecal culture and F57 real-time polymerase chain reaction for the detection of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in Swiss cattle herds with a history of paratuberculosis 
Bovine paratuberculosis is an incurable chronic granulomatous enteritis caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). The prevalence of MAP in the Swiss cattle population is hard to estimate, since only a few cases of clinical paratuberculosis are reported to the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office each year.
Fecal samples from 1,339 cattle (855 animals from 12 dairy herds, 484 animals from 11 suckling cow herds, all herds with a history of sporadic paratuberculosis) were investigated by culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for shedding of MAP.
By culture, MAP was detected in 62 of 445 fecal pools (13.9%), whereas PCR detected MAP in 9 of 445 pools (2.0%). All 186 samples of the 62 culture-positive pools were reanalyzed individually. By culture, MAP was grown from 59 individual samples (31.7%), whereas PCR detected MAP in 12 individual samples (6.5%), all of which came from animals showing symptoms of paratuberculosis during the study. Overall, MAP was detected in 10 out of 12 dairy herds (83.3%) and in 8 out of 11 suckling cow herds (72.7%).
There is a serious clinically inapparent MAP reservoir in the Swiss cattle population. PCR cannot replace culture to identify individual MAP shedders but is suitable to identify MAP-infected herds, given that the amount of MAP shed in feces is increasing in diseased animals or in animals in the phase of transition to clinical disease.
PMCID: PMC4197246  PMID: 25300710
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis; Cattle; Feces; Culture; PCR
7.  Composite testing for ante-mortem diagnosis of Johne’s disease in farmed New Zealand deer: correlations between bacteriological culture, histopathology, serological reactivity and faecal shedding as determined by quantitative PCR 
In the absence of overt clinical signs of Johne’s Disease (JD), laboratory based tests have largely been limited to organism detection via faecal culture or PCR and serological tests for antibody reactivity. In this study we describe the application of quantitative faecal PCR for the detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in New Zealand farmed deer to quantify the bacterial load in cervine faecal samples as an adjunct to an existing serodiagnostic test (Paralisa™) tailored for JD diagnosis in deer. As ELISA has potential as a cheap, high throughput screening test for JD, an attempt was made to assess the sensitivity, specificity and positive/negative predictive (PPV/NPV) values of Paralisa™ for estimating levels of faecal shedding of MAP as a basis for JD management in deer.
Correlations were made between diagnostic tests (ELISA, qPCR, culture and histopathology) to establish the precision and predictive values of individual tests. The findings from this study suggest there is strong correlation between bacterial shedding, as determined by faecal qPCR, with both culture (r = 0.9325) and histopathological lesion severity scoring (r = 0.7345). Correlation between faecal shedding and ELISA reactivity in deer was weaker with values of r = 0.4325 and r = 0.4006 for Johnin and Protoplasmic antigens, respectively. At an ELISA Unit (EU) cutoff of >50 (Johnin antigen) the PPV of Paralisa™ for significant faecal shedding in deer (>104 organisms/g) was moderate (0.55) while the NPV was higher (0.89). At an EU cutoff of ≥150, the PPV for shedding >105 organisms/g rose to 0.88, with a corresponding NPV of 0.85.
The evidence available from this study suggests that Paralisa™ used at a cutoff of 50EU could be used to screen deer herds for MAP infection with sequential qPCR testing used to cull all Paralisa™ positive animals that exhibit significant MAP faecal shedding.
PMCID: PMC3639118  PMID: 23574863
Johne’s disease; Paratuberculosis; MAP; Quantitative PCR; ELISA; Deer; Cervus elaphus
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Prevalence and distribution of paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) in cattle herds in Ireland 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2009;62(9):597-606.
A simple random survey was conducted in Ireland during 2005 to estimate the ELISA-prevalence of paratuberculosis, commonly called Johne's disease (JD), in the cattle population. Serum samples were collected from all 20,322 females/breeding bulls over 12 months-of-age in 639 herds. All samples were tested using a commercially available absorbed ELISA. The overall prevalence of infected herds, based on the presence of at least one ELISA-positive animal, was 21.4% (95% CI 18.4%-24.9%). Herd prevalence levels amongst dairy herds (mean 31.5%; 95% CI: 24.6%, 39.3%) was higher than among beef herds (mean 17.9%; 95% CI: 14.6%-21.8%). However, the animal level prevalence was similar. The true prevalence among all animals tested, was calculated to be 2.86% (95%CI: 2.76, 2.97) and for animals >= 2 yrs, it was 3.30% (95%CI: 3.17, 3.43). For animals in beef herds, true prevalence was 3.09% (95%CI: 2.93, 3.24), and for those in dairy herds, 2.74% (95%CI: 2.59, 2.90). The majority of herds had only one ELISA-positive infected animal. Only 6.4% (95% CI 4.7%-8.7%) of all herds had more than one ELISA-positive infected animal; 13.3% (CI 8.7%-19.7%) of dairy herds ranging from two to eight ELISA-positive infected animals; and, 3.9% beef herds (CI 2.4%-6.2%) ranging from two to five ELISA-positive infected animals. The true prevalence of herds infected and shedding Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis is estimated to be 9.5% for all herd types; 20.6% for dairy herds; and 7.6% for beef herds. If ELISA positive animals <2-years-of-age are excluded, the true herd prevalene reduces to: 9.3% for all herd types; 19.6% for dairy herds; and 6.3% for beef herds based on a test specificity (Sp) of 99.8% and test sensitivity (Se) (i.e., ability to detect culture-positive, infected animals shedding at any level) of 27.8-28.9%.
PMCID: PMC3113810  PMID: 21851740
herd ELISA-prevalence; Ireland; Johne's disease; Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis; Paratuberculosis
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Development of an F57 Sequence-Based Real-Time PCR Assay for Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Milk 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(10):5957-5968.
A light cycler-based real-time PCR (LC-PCR) assay that amplifies the F57 sequence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis was developed. This assay also includes an internal amplification control template to monitor the amplification conditions in each reaction. The targeted F57 sequence element is unique for M.avium subsp. paratuberculosis and is not known to exist in any other bacterial species. The assay specificity was demonstrated by evaluation of 10 known M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates and 33 other bacterial strains. The LC-PCR assay has a broad linear range (2 × 101 to 2 ×106 copies) for quantitative estimation of the number of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis F57 target copies in positive samples. To maximize the assay's detection sensitivity, an efficient strategy for isolation of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA from spiked milk samples was also developed. The integrated procedure combining optimal M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA isolation and real-time PCR detection had a reproducible detection limit of about 10 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells per ml when a starting sample volume of 10 ml of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-spiked milk was analyzed. The entire process can be completed within a single working day and is suitable for routine monitoring of milk samples for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis contamination. The applicability of this protocol for naturally contaminated milk was also demonstrated using milk samples from symptomatic M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected cows, as well as pooled samples from a dairy herd with a confirmed history of paratuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC1266021  PMID: 16204510
15.  Culture- and Quantitative IS900 Real-Time PCR-Based Analysis of the Persistence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in a Controlled Dairy Cow Farm Environment 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(18):6608-6614.
The aim of this study was to monitor the persistence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in environmental samples taken from a Holstein farm with a long history of clinical paratuberculosis. A herd of 606 head was eradicated, and mechanical cleaning and disinfection with chloramine B with ammonium (4%) was carried out on the farm; in the surrounding areas (on the field and field midden) lime was applied. Environmental samples were collected before and over a period of 24 months after destocking. Only one sample out of 48 (2%) examined on the farm (originating from a waste pit and collected before destocking) was positive for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis by cultivation on solid medium (Herrold's egg yolk medium). The results using real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) showed that a total of 81% of environmental samples with an average mean M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cell number of 3.09 × 103 were positive for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis before destocking compared to 43% with an average mean M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cell number of 5.86 × 102 after 24 months. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-positive samples were detected in the cattle barn as well as in the calf barn and surrounding areas. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was detected from different matrices: floor and instrument scrapings, sediment, or scraping from watering troughs, waste pits, and cobwebs. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA was also detected in soil and plants collected on the field midden and the field 24 months after destocking. Although the proportion of positive samples decreased from 64% to 23% over time, the numbers of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells were comparable.
PMCID: PMC3426711  PMID: 22773642
16.  Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Antibody Response, Fecal Shedding, and Antibody Cross-Reactivity to Mycobacterium bovis in M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-Infected Cattle Herds Vaccinated against Johne's Disease 
Vaccination for Johne's disease with killed inactivated vaccine in cattle herds has shown variable success. The vaccine delays the onset of disease but does not afford complete protection. Johne's disease vaccination has also been reported to interfere with measurements of cell-mediated immune responses for the detection of bovine tuberculosis. Temporal antibody responses and fecal shedding of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, the causative agent of Johne's disease, were measured in 2 dairy cattle herds using Johne's disease vaccine (Mycopar) over a period of 7 years. Vaccination against Johne's disease resulted in positive serum M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis antibody responses in both herds, and the responses persisted in vaccinated cattle up to 7 years of age. Some vaccinated animals (29.4% in herd A and 36.2% in herd B) showed no serological reactivity to M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-specific antibody responses were also detected in milk from Johne's disease-vaccinated animals, but fewer animals (39.3% in herd A and 49.4% in herd B) had positive results with milk than with serum samples. With vaccination against M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis, fecal shedding in both dairy herds was reduced significantly (P < 0.001). In addition, when selected Johne's disease-vaccinated and -infected animals were investigated for serological cross-reactivity to Mycobacterium bovis, no cross-reactivity was observed.
PMCID: PMC4018888  PMID: 24623626
17.  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
18.  Suspicion of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Transmission between Cattle and Wild-Living Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) by Multitarget Genotyping 
Multitarget genotyping of the etiologic agent Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis is necessary for epidemiological tracing of paratuberculosis (Johne's disease). The study was undertaken to assess the informative value of different typing techniques and individual genome markers by investigation of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis transmission between wild-living red deer and farmed cattle with known shared habitats. Fifty-three M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis type II isolates were differentiated by short sequence repeat analysis (SSR; 4 loci), mycobacterial interspersed repetitive-unit–variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MIRU-VNTR; 8 loci), and restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis based on IS900 (IS900-RFLP) using BstEII and PstI digestion. Isolates originated from free-living red deer (Cervus elaphus) from Eifel National Park (n = 13), six cattle herds living in the area of this park (n = 23), and five cattle herds without any contact with these red deer (n = 17). Data based on individual herds and genotypes verified that SSR G2 repeats did not exhibit sufficient stability for epidemiological studies. Two common SSR profiles (without G2 repeats), nine MIRU-VNTR patterns, and nine IS900-RFLP patterns were detected, resulting in 17 genotypes when combined. A high genetic variability was found for red deer and cattle isolates within and outside Eifel National Park, but it was revealed only by combination of different typing techniques. Results imply that within this restricted area, wild-living and farmed animals maintain a reservoir for specific M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis genotypes. No host relation of genotypes was obtained. Results suggested that four genotypes had been transmitted between and within species and that one genotype had been transmitted between cattle herds only. Use of multitarget genotyping for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis type II strains and sufficiently stable genetic markers is essential for reliable interpretations of epidemiological studies on paratuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3273033  PMID: 22179249
19.  Mycobacterium avium Subspecies paratuberculosis Cultured from Locally and Commercially Pasteurized Cow's Milk in the Czech Republic 
Between November 2002 and April 2003, 244 bottles and cartons of commercially pasteurized cow's milk were obtained at random from retail outlets throughout the Czech Republic. During the same period, samples of raw milk and of milk that was subsequently subjected to a minimum of 71.7°C for 15 s in a local pasteurization unit were also obtained from two dairy herds, designated herds A and B, with low and high levels, respectively, of subclinical Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection, and from one herd, herd C, without infection. Infection in individual cows in each herd was tested by fecal culturing. Milk samples were brought to the Veterinary Research Institute in Brno, Czech Republic, processed, inoculated onto Herrold's egg yolk slants, and incubated for 32 weeks. Colonies were characterized by morphology, Ziehl-Neelsen staining, mycobactin J dependency, and IS900 PCR results. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was cultured from 4 of 244 units (1.6%) of commercially pasteurized retail milk. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis was also cultured from 2 of 100 (2%) cartons of locally pasteurized milk derived from infected herds A and B and from 0 of 100 cartons of milk from uninfected herd C. Raw milk from 1 of 10 (10%) fecal culture-positive cows in herd A and from 13 of 66 (19.7%) fecal culture-positive cows in herd B was culture positive for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. These findings confirm that M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis is present in raw milk from subclinically infected dairy cows. The culture of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in the Czech Republic from retail milk that had been pasteurized locally or commercially to the required national and European Union standards is in agreement with similar research on milk destined for consumers in the United Kingdom and the United States and shows that humans are being exposed to this chronic enteric pathogen by this route.
PMCID: PMC1065148  PMID: 15746320
20.  Dam Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection status does not predetermine calves for future shedding when raised in a contaminated environment: a cohort study 
Veterinary Research  2015;46(1):70.
Uptake of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) by calves in the first days of life from colostrum, milk and faeces is regarded an important moment of transmission. The objective of this study was to quantify the association between the MAP status of dams as determined by the presence of MAP DNA and antibody in colostrum and that of DNA in faeces and the environment with subsequent MAP shedding of their daughters. A cohort of 117 dam-daughter pairs giving birth/being born on eight commercial dairy farms with endemic paratuberculosis was followed where colostrum, faecal and environmental samples (dust) were analysed for the presence of MAP using an IS900 real-time PCR. Antibodies in colostrum were measured by ELISA. Analysis of dust samples showed that on all farms environmental MAP exposure occurred continuously. In significantly more colostrum samples (48%) MAP DNA was detected compared to faecal samples (37%). MAP specific antibodies were present in 34% of the colostrum samples. In total MAP DNA was present in faecal samples of 41% of the daughters at least once during the sampling period. The association between faecal shedding in the offspring and the dam MAP status defined by MAP PCR on colostrum, MAP PCR on faeces or ELISA on colostrum was determined by an exact cox regression analysis for discrete data. The model indicated that the hazard for faecal shedding in daughters born to MAP positive dams was not significantly different compared to daughters born to MAP negative dams. When born to a dam with DNA positive faeces the HR was 1.05 (CI 0.6; 1.8) and with DNA positive colostrum the HR was 1.17 (CI 0.6; 2.3). When dam status was defined by a combination of both PCR outcomes (faeces and colostrum) and the ELISA outcome the HR was 1.26 (CI 0.9; 1.9). Therefore, this study indicates that neither the presence of MAP DNA in colostrum, MAP DNA in faeces nor the presence of MAP antibodies in colostrum of the dam significantly influences the hazard of MAP shedding in their subsequent daughters up to the age of two years when raised in a contaminated environment.
PMCID: PMC4474464  PMID: 26091807
21.  Development of a rapid phage-based method for the detection of viable Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in blood within 48 h☆ 
The aim of this study was to develop a methodology to rapidly detect viable Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in clinical blood samples. MAP cells spiked into commercially available blood were recovered using optimised peptide-mediated magnetic separation (PMMS) and detected using a phage-based method, and the identity of the cells detected confirmed using nested-PCR amplification of MAP signature sequences (IS900). The limit of detection was determined to be 10 MAP cells per ml of blood and was used to detect MAP present in clinical bovine blood samples. Using the PMMS-phage method there was no difference when detecting MAP from whole blood or from isolated buffy coat. MAP was detected in animals that were milk-ELISA positive (15 animals) by PMMS-phage and no MAP was detected in blood samples from an accredited Johne's disease free herd (5 animals). In a set of samples from one herd (10 animals) that came from animals with variable milk ELISA status, the PMMS-phage results agreed with the positive milk-ELISA results in all but one case. These results show that the PMMS-phage method can detect MAP present in naturally infected blood. Total assay time is 48 h and, unlike PCR-based detection tests, only viable cells are detected. A rapid method for detecting MAP in blood could further the understanding of disseminated infection in animals with Johne's disease.
•Optimisation of efficient MAP cell capture in blood using magnetic separation•Found a limit of detection of 101 pfu ml− 1 in spiked blood•Optimised a PCR to detect signature MAP DNA sequences from just one plaque•We successfully detected viable MAP in naturally infected animals within 48 h
PMCID: PMC3783900  PMID: 23811207
PMMS, Peptide mediated magnetic separation; FPTB, FASTplaqueTB assay; MP, Media Plus; Bacteriophage; Johne's disease; Magnetic separation; Paratuberculosis; Rapid detection
22.  Peptide aMptD-Mediated Capture PCR for Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Bulk Milk Samples 
A peptide-mediated capture PCR for the detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in bulk milk samples was developed and characterized. Capture of the organism was performed using peptide aMptD, which had been shown to bind to the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis MptD protein (J. Stratmann, B. Strommenger, R. Goethe, K. Dohmann, G. F. Gerlach, K. Stevenson, L. L. Li, Q. Zhang, V. Kapur, and T. J. Bull, Infect. Immun. 72:1265-1274, 2004). Consistent expression of the MptD receptor protein and binding of the aMptD ligand were demonstrated by capturing different Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis type I and type II strains and subsequent PCR analysis using ISMav2-based primers. The analytical sensitivity of the method was determined to be 5 × 102 CFU ml−1 for artificially contaminated milk. The specificity of aMptD binding was confirmed by culture and competitive capture assays, showing selective enrichment of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (at a concentration of 5 × 102 CFU ml−1) from samples containing 100- and 1,000-fold excesses of other mycobacterial species, including M. avium subsp. avium and M. avium subsp. hominissuis. The aMptD-mediated capture of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis using paramagnetic beads, followed by culture, demonstrated the ability of this approach to capture viable target cells present in artificially contaminated milk. Surface plasmon resonance experiments revealed that the aMptD peptide is a high-affinity ligand with a calculated association rate constant of 9.28 × 103 and an association constant of 1.33 × 109. The potential use of the method on untreated raw milk in the field was investigated by testing 423 bulk milk samples obtained from different dairy farms in Germany, 23 of which tested positive. Taken together, the results imply that the peptide-mediated capture PCR might present a suitable test for paratuberculosis screening of dairy herds, as it has an analytical sensitivity sufficient for detection of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in bulk milk samples under field conditions, relies on a defined and validated ligand-receptor interaction, and is adaptable to routine diagnostic laboratory automation.
PMCID: PMC1538760  PMID: 16885259
23.  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
24.  Novel Secreted Antigens of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis as Serodiagnostic Biomarkers for Johne's Disease in Cattle 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2013;20(12):1783-1791.
Johne's disease is a chronic gastroenteritis of cattle caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis that afflicts 40% of dairy herds worldwide. M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected cattle can remain asymptomatic for years while transmitting the pathogen via fecal contamination and milk. Current serodiagnosis with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) fails to detect asymptomatic M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected cattle due to the use of poorly defined antigens and knowledge gaps in our understanding of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis components eliciting pathogen-specific immune responses. We set out to (i) define a subset of proteins that contain putative antigenic targets and (ii) screen these antigen pools for immunogens relevant in detecting infection. To accomplish our first objective, we captured and resolved M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-secreted proteins using a 2-step fractionation method and reverse-phase liquid chromatography to identify 162 unique proteins, of which 66 had not been previously observed in M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis culture filtrates. Subsequent screening of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-secreted proteins showed four antigens, of which one or more reacted on immunoblotting with individual serum samples from 35 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected cows. Moreover, these novel antigens reacted with sera from 6 low M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis shedders and 3 fecal-culture-positive cows labeled as ELISA seronegative. The specificity of these antigens was demonstrated using negative-control sera from uninfected calves (n = 5) and uninfected cows (n = 5), which did not react to any of these antigens in immunoblotting. As three of the four antigens are novel, their characterization and incorporation into an ELISA-based format will aid in detecting asymptomatic cattle in early or subclinical stages of disease.
PMCID: PMC3889510  PMID: 24089453
25.  Diagnostic accuracy of a Mycobacterium phlei-absorbed serum enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for diagnosis of bovine paratuberculosis in dairy cows. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1992;30(3):613-618.
The purpose of this study was to describe the responses of sera from five groups of cattle to an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for paratuberculosis by using serum absorbed with Mycobacterium phlei at a single working dilution. The infection status of the cattle was determined by fecal culture. Cattle with different levels of exposure (high versus low prevalence and test negative) and disease manifestation (clinically suspect infection versus subclinical infection) were examined, as follows: (i) two paratuberculosis-negative herds; (ii) a fecal culture-confirmed, clinically suspect cases of paratuberculosis; (iii) cows from a paratuberculosis-infected herd with a high infection rate, as determined by fecal culture, but with no clinical cases at the time of sampling; (iv) cows from three paratuberculosis-infected herds known to have paratuberculosis diagnosed on the farm (low infection rate determined by fecal culture); and (v) one fecal culture-negative herd with known serologically positive cattle. Results generally showed a decreased ELISA response when absorbed rather than nonabsorbed serum from each animal was used. The results of the fecal culture confirmed clinically suspect cases, which were analyzed in relation to the amount of colonies isolated from the animals on fecal culture (0, +, ++,+++ , ++++, and above). There was a significant increase in the ELISA response for animals with heavy Mycobacterium paratuberculosis shedding ( ++++ or above), when both unabsorbed and absorbed sera were used, compared with the response in animals that were fecal culture negative or that shed M. paratuberculosis at lower levels (less than +) (P less than 0.05). The effects on sensitivity and specificity by using different cutoff points for the five groups of cattle with different levels of exposure is described, since sera were not discretely segregated into distinct groups of positive and negative samples. The specificity of the ELISA in the two fecal culture-negative herds was 100% at an ELISA cutoff of an optical density (OD) of 0.1 and above for absorbed serum. For unabsorbed serum the specificity was 62.9% at a similar cutoff value. Similarly, the specificity of the fecal culture-negative, serologically positive herd increased from 37.5 to 72.2 at an ELISA cutoff value of 0.1 to 0.2 (OD) by using absorbed versus unabsorbed serum from 75.0 to 94.4 at an ELISA cutoff value of 0.2 to 0.3 (OD).
PMCID: PMC265120  PMID: 1551978

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