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1.  Effects of vaccination against paratuberculosis on tuberculosis in goats: diagnostic interferences and cross-protection 
Background
Most countries carrying out campaigns of bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication impose a ban on the use of mycobacterial vaccines in cattle. However, vaccination against paratuberculosis (PTB) in goats is often allowed even when its effect on TB diagnosis has not been fully evaluated. To address this issue, goat kids previously vaccinated against PTB were experimentally infected with TB.
Results
Evaluation of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) secretion induced by avian and bovine tuberculins (PPD) showed a predominant avian PPD-biased response in the vaccinated group from week 4 post-vaccination onward. Although 60% of the animals were bovine reactors at week 14, avian PPD-biased responses returned at week 16. After challenge with M. caprae, the IFN-γ responses radically changed to show predominant bovine PPD-biased responses from week 18 onward. In addition, cross-reactions with bovine PPD that had been observed in the vaccinated group at week 14 were reduced when using the M. tuberculosis complex-specific antigens ESAT-6/CFP-10 and Rv3615c as new DIVA (differentiation of infected and vaccinated animals) reagents, which further maintained sensitivity post-challenge. Ninety percent of the animals reacted positively to the tuberculin cervical comparative intradermal test performed at 12 weeks post-infection. Furthermore, post-mortem analysis showed reductions in tuberculous lesions and bacterial burden in some vaccinated animals, particularly expressed in terms of the degree of extrapulmonary dissemination of TB infection.
Conclusions
Our results suggest a degree of interference of PTB vaccination with current TB diagnostics that can be fully mitigated when using new DIVA reagents. A partial protective effect associated with vaccination was also observed in some vaccinated animals.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-191
PMCID: PMC3514378  PMID: 23072619
Tuberculosis; Paratuberculosis; Goat; Vaccine; Diagnostic; Interferon gamma
3.  Atypical/Nor98 scrapie in the Basque Country: a case report of eight outbreaks 
Background
Since 2002, an active surveillance program for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy in small ruminants in European Union countries allowed identification of a considerable number of atypical cases with similarities to the previously identified atypical scrapie cases termed Nor98.
Case presentation
Here we report molecular and neuropathological features of eight atypical/Nor98 scrapie cases detected between 2002 and 2009. Significant features of the affected sheep included: their relatively high ages (mean age 7.9 years, range between 4.3 and 12.8), their breed (all Latxa) and their PRNP genotypes (AFRQ/ALRQ, ALRR/ALRQ, AFRQ/AFRQ, AFRQ/AHQ, ALRQ/ALRH, ALRQ/ALRQ). All the sheep were confirmed as atypical scrapie by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. Two cases presented more PrP immunolabelling in cerebral cortex than in cerebellum.
Conclusions
This work indicates that atypical scrapie constitutes the most common small ruminant transmissible spongiform encephalopathy form in Latxa sheep in the Spanish Basque Country. Moreover, a new genotype (ALRQ/ALRH) was found associated to atypical scrapie.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-17
PMCID: PMC2859363  PMID: 20346155
4.  Seroepidemiological study of Q fever in domestic ruminants in semi-extensive grazing systems 
Background
Q fever, a worldwide zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii, is endemic in northern Spain where it has been reported as responsible for large series of human pneumonia cases and domestic ruminants' reproductive disorders. To investigate pathogen exposure among domestic ruminants in semi-extensive grazing systems in northern Spain, a serosurvey was carried out in 1,379 sheep (42 flocks), 626 beef cattle (46 herds) and 115 goats (11 herds). Serum antibodies were analysed by ELISA and positive samples were retested by Complement Fixation test (CFT) to detect recent infections.
Results
ELISA anti-C. burnetii antibody prevalence was slightly higher in sheep (11.8 ± 2.0%) than in goats (8.7 ± 5.9%) and beef cattle (6.7 ± 2.0%). Herd prevalence was 74% for ovine, 45% for goat and 43% for bovine. Twenty-one percent of sheep flocks, 27% of goat and 14% of cattle herds had a C. burnetii seroprevalence ≥ 20%. Only 15 out of 214 ELISA-positive animals reacted positive by CFT. Age-associated seroprevalence differed between ruminant species with a general increasing pattern with age. No evidence of correlation between abortion history and seroprevalence rates was observed despite the known abortifacient nature of C. burnetii in domestic ruminants.
Conclusions
Results reported herein showed that sheep had the highest contact rate with C. burnetii in the region but also that cattle and goats should not be neglected as part of the domestic cycle of C. burnetii. This work reports basic epidemiologic patterns of C. burnetii in semi-extensive grazed domestic ruminants which, together with the relevant role of C. burnetii as a zoonotic and abortifacient agent, makes these results to concern both Public and Animal Health Authorities.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-3
PMCID: PMC2831013  PMID: 20089188
5.  Faecal shedding and strain diversity of Listeria monocytogenes in healthy ruminants and swine in Northern Spain 
Background
Listeria monocytogenes is among the most important foodborne bacterial pathogens due to the high mortality rate and severity of the infection. L. monocytogenes is a ubiquitous organism occasionally present in the intestinal tract of various animal species and faecal shedding by asymptomatically infected livestock poses a risk for contamination of farm environments and raw food at the pre-harvest stages. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and strain diversity of L. monocytogenes in healthy ruminants and swine herds.
Results
Faecal samples from 30 animals per herd were collected from 343 herds (120 sheep, 124 beef cattle, 82 dairy cattle and 17 swine) in the Basque Country and screened in pools by an automated enzyme-linked fluorescent immunoassay (VIDAS®) to estimate the prevalence of positive herds. Positive samples were subcultured onto the selective and differential agar ALOA and biochemically confirmed. L. monocytogenes was isolated from 46.3% of dairy cattle, 30.6% beef cattle and 14.2% sheep herds, but not from swine. Within-herd prevalence investigated by individually analysing 197 sheep and 221 cattle detected 1.5% of faecal shedders in sheep and 21.3% in cattle. Serotyping of 114 isolates identified complex 4b as the most prevalent (84.2%), followed by 1/2a (13.2%), and PFGE analysis of 68 isolates showed a highly diverse L. monocytogenes population in ruminant herds.
Conclusion
These results suggested that cattle represent a potentially important reservoir for L. monocytogenes in the Basque Country, and highlighted the complexity of pathogen control at the farm level.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-5-2
PMCID: PMC2651128  PMID: 19133125
6.  Development and validation of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibodies against Mycobacterium bovis in european wild boar 
Background
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) remains a significant problem in some parts of Spain largely because of contacts between cattle and wildlife reservoirs in extensive grazing systems. European Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is one of the species involved in the transmission of the disease to other species. Fast and simple detection methods would be critical for assessing infection prevalence, study the mechanisms of pathogen transmission and monitoring the effects of TB control measures.
Results
An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect antibodies against Mycobacterium bovis in wild boar serum was developed and validated on 185 sera from TB positive and negative wild boar. Based on antigen inoculation of captive animals as well as tuberculosis compatible lesions, culture results and molecular analysis of hunted individuals, animals were allocated into two groups: tuberculosis positive group and tuberculosis negative group. After optimization of the positive to negative ratio using different combinations of serum dilutions and conjugate concentrations, the test yielded a sensitivity of 72.60% and a specificity of 96.43% for the best cut-off.
Conclusion
Although some negative group animals showed an ELISA positive reaction (< 3%), this assay showed a high potential for accurate diagnosis of TB in wild boar, as its large dynamic range supported a good discriminatory power and a satisfactory balance between sensitivity and specificity.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-4-43
PMCID: PMC2606677  PMID: 18976491
7.  Molecular diagnosis of Theileria and Babesia species infecting cattle in Northern Spain using reverse line blot macroarrays 
Background
Piroplasmosis in cattle is caused by tick-borne haemoprotozoan parasites of the genera Theileria and Babesia. Molecular detection techniques offer higher sensitivity and specificity than microscopy examination methods and serological tests. A reverse line blot (RLB) macroarray that included generic and species-specific probes for Theileria annulata, Theileria buffeli, Babesia bovis, Babesia bigemina, Babesia divergens and Babesia major was used to study the presence and identity of the piroplasm species infecting 263 bovine blood samples from 79 farms, most of them in Northern Spain. Microscopy examination of blood smears and haematology were also performed whenever possible to identify animals with parasitaemia.
Results
RLB hybridisation identified infection in 54.0% of the samples, whereas only 28.8% were positive by microscopy examination. The most frequently found species was T. buffeli, present in 42.6% of the samples. T. annulata was found in 22 samples (8.4%) from 12 farms, including 9 farms (14 samples) located in Northern Spain where presence of the vector is not very common. Babesia infections were less frequently detected: B. major was found in 3.0% of the samples, B. bigemina in 2.7%, B. bovis in 2.3% and B. divergens in 1.1%. Mixed infections were detected in 14 samples, accounting for six different combinations of species.
Conclusion
This is the first report in which B. major and B. divergens have been detected in Spain using molecular identification techniques and the first time that B. bovis has been detected in Northern Spain. The detection of T. annulata in Northern Spain suggests that the distribution of Mediterranean theileriosis might be changing. Samples with positive RLB hybridisation but negative microscopy had haematology values within the normal ranges suggesting that they corresponded to chronic carriers that may serve as reservoirs of the infection. In this sense, sensitive and specific laboratorial tests like RLB that clearly identify the parasite and can detect subclinical infections are essential to establish good control measures.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-2-16
PMCID: PMC1482696  PMID: 16684356
8.  Selection of ovine housekeeping genes for normalisation by real-time RT-PCR; analysis of PrP gene expression and genetic susceptibility to scrapie 
Background
Cellular prion protein expression is essential for the development of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), and in sheep, genetic susceptibility to scrapie has been associated to PrP gene polymorphisms. To test the hypothetical linkage between PrP gene expression and genetic susceptibility, PrP mRNA levels were measured by real-time RT-PCR in six ovine tissues of animals with different genotypes.
Results
Previous to the PrP gene expression analysis the stability of several housekeeping (HK) genes was assessed in order to select the best ones for relative quantification. The normalisation of gene expression was carried out using a minimum of three HK genes in order to detect small expression differences more accurately than using a single control gene. The expression stability analysis of six HK genes showed a large tissue-associated variation reflecting the existence of tissue-specific factors. Thereby, a specific set of HK genes was required for an accurate normalisation of the PrP gene expression within each tissue. Statistical differences in the normalised PrP mRNA levels were found among the tissues, obtaining the highest expression level in obex, followed by ileum, lymph node, spleen, cerebellum and cerebrum. A tendency towards increased PrP mRNA levels and genetic susceptibility was observed in central nervous system. However, the results did not support the hypothesis that PrP mRNA levels vary between genotypes.
Conclusion
The results on PrP gene expression presented here provide valuable baseline data for future studies on scrapie pathogenesis. On the other hand, the results on stability data of several HK genes reported in this study could prove very useful in other gene expression studies carried out in these relevant ovine tissues.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-1-3
PMCID: PMC1262732  PMID: 16188044

Results 1-8 (8)