Effects of prevalence and testing by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and fecal culture on the risk of introduction of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis-infected cows into dairy herds

Tim Carpenter, Ian Gardner, Michael T. Collins, Robert H. Whitlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


A stochastic simulation model was developed to assess the risk of introduction of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection into a dairy herd through purchase of female replacement cattle. The effects of infection prevalence in the source herd(s), number of females purchased, and testing by enzymelinked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) alone or ELISA and fecal culture as risk mitigation strategies were evaluated. Decisions about negative test results were made on a lot and individual basis. A hypothetical dairy herd, free from M. a. paratuberculosis, which replaced 1 lot (10, 30, or 100) of cows per year, was considered. Probability distributions were specified for the sensitivities and specificities of ELISA and fecal culture, the proportion of infected herds and within-herd prevalence for randomly selected replacement source herds (high prevalence) and herds in level 2 (medium prevalence) and level 3 (low prevalence) of the Voluntary Johne's Disease Herd Status Program (VJDHSP). Simulation results predicted that 1-56% of the lots had at least 1 M. a. paratuberculosis-infected cow. Assuming that ELISA sensitivity was 25%, simulation results showed on a lot basis that between 0.4% and 18% and between 0.1% and 9% were predicted to have at least 1 infected cow not detected by ELISA and by a combination of ELISA and fecal culture, respectively. On an individual cow basis, between 0.1% and 8.3% of ELISA-negative cattle in ELISA-positive lots were estimated to be infected. In both the lot and individual analyses, the probability of nondetection increased with larger lot sizes and greater prevalence. Sensitivity analysis indicated that the effect of a lower ELISA sensitivity (10%) was a variable decrease in mean detection probabilities for all combinations of prevalence and lot size. The benefit of testing introduced cattle with ELISA alone or in combination with fecal culture was found to be minimal if cows were purchased from known, low-prevalence (level 3) herds. The value of testing by ELISA alone or in combination with fecal culture was greatest in high-prevalence herds for all lot sizes. Testing of random-source cattle, bought as herd replacements, can partially mitigate the risk of introduction of M. a. paratuberculosis but not as well as by using low-prevalence source herds (level-3 VJDHSP), with or without testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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