Effects of Seasonal Climatic Conditions on the Diagnosis of Mycobacterium avium Subspecies paratuberculosis in Dairy Cattle*
S. J. Strickland1, H. M. Scott1, M. C. Libal2,, A. J. Roussel, Jr.3 and E. R. Jordan4
1 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences,
2 Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory,
3 Department of Veterinary Large Animal Clinical Sciences and
4 Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843
Corresponding author: H. M. Scott; e-mail: HMScott@cvm.tamu.edu
Validity of Johne’s disease programs and control protocols that rely on established cut points [e.g., specified sample-to-positive (S/P) ratios] for ELISA serological tests depends on interpreted results that are not susceptible to variable test accuracy. It was hypothesized that seasonal variability exists in serological response to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) infection. Further, a reciprocal response may occur, resulting in greater risk of fecal shedding in subclinically infected animals. A testing regimen was invoked that included multiple testing of individual adult cows during the 4 seasons. Serum was collected on a cyclic, monthly basis from 3 randomly selected cohorts of dairy cows, and fecal samples were collected from the 20% of cows with the greatest ELISA test S/P ratios. Staggered, quarterly sampling was continued for 1 yr, and at the conclusion, serum was analyzed en masse. The ELISA outcome values (i.e., S/P ratio) were treated both as categorical and continuous variables. The potential lagged effects of temperature-related seasonality on S/P ratio, as well as the potential for a change in test result caused by temperature were assessed. Results for fecal culture were analyzed on a categorical scale and compared with the ELISA results to explore the possibility of reciprocal fecal shedding. No significant seasonal effects on either S/P ratios or the proportion of cows seropositive to MAP were observed. Furthermore, no evidence was found linking temperature-related seasonality to a reciprocal increase in the risk of fecal culture positivity for MAP.
Key Words: Johne’s disease • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis • seasonality • temperature
Abbreviation key: AR = auto-regressive, JD = Johne’s disease, GEE = generalized estimating equation, MAP = Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, S/P = sample-to-positive, THI = temperature-humidity index, TVMDL = Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
J. Dairy Sci. 88:2432-2440. © American Dairy Science Association, 2005.