The diagnostic performance of an antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using serum and colostrum to determine the disease status of a Jersey dairy herd infected with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis
Colostrum may have the ability to improve the diagnostic accuracy of some tests when compared to serum for important livestock diseases because of the high concentrations of immunoglobulins present within this sample type. The ELISA for Johne's disease is one such test, as it suffers from low sensitivity when testing serum samples collected during the subclinical stage of infection. Blood and colostrum samples were collected from 34 Jersey dairy cows and tested for antibodies against Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) by ELISA. Fecal samples were also collected and tested by a high-throughput Johne's polymerase chain reaction (HT-J PCR) assay and fecal culture (FC), with the latter being used as the reference test. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed, and the area under the curve (AUC) was calculated. The HT-J PCR and FC results were also compared. Of the 34 cows in this study, 4 had FC results consistent with MAP infection. The HT-J PCR did not identify any FC-positive cows. Using a 1:20 dilution and sample-to-positive (S/P) ratio cutoff threshold of 0.15, the relative sensitivity values of both serum (AUC 0. 56) and colostrum (AUC 0.63) were 0%. With lower sample dilutions, the relative sensitivity values of serum were 0% (1:2, AUC 0.62; 1:5, AUC 0.55); however, the relative sensitivity value of colostrum was 75% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 19-99%) at a dilution of 1:5, S/P ratio cutoff threshold of 0.15, and AUC of 0.73 (95% CI: 0.55-0.87). The testing of colostrum samples for MAP-specific antibodies by ELISA may provide improved identification of animals in the early stages of infection with MAP when compared with serum samples.