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Short communication: Application of an N-acetyl-l-cysteine-NaOH decontamination method for the recovery of viable Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis from milk of naturally infected cows

Bradner, L., Robbe-Austerman, S., Beitz, D.C., Stabel, J.R.
Journal of dairy science 2014 v.97 no.6 pp. 3694
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, acetylcysteine, bacterial shedding, cows, culture media, dairies, dairy herds, decontamination, disease transmission, egg yolk, exposure pathways, feces, infection, microbial contamination, microbial growth, milk, paratuberculosis, polymerase chain reaction, sampling, sodium hydroxide, surfactants, United States
Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is shed into the milk of cattle affected by Johne’s disease and, therefore, is a route of transmission for infection in young stock in dairy herds. The objective of this study was to validate a decontamination and culture protocol for the recovery of MAP from individual bovine milk samples from known infected herds. Decontamination of milk samples (n=17) with either 0.75% hexadecylpyridinium chloride for 5h or N-acetyl-l-cysteine-1.5% sodium hydroxide (NALC-1.5% NaOH) for 15min before culture in BACTEC 12B (Becton Dickinson, Franklin, NJ), para-JEM [Thermo Fisher Scientific (TREK Diagnostic Systems, Inc.), Cleveland, OH], and Herrold’s egg yolk (HEY; Becton Dickinson) media was compared. Treatment with NALC-NaOH resulted in a lower percentage (6%) of contaminated samples than did treatment with hexadecylpyridinium chloride (47%), regardless of culture medium. The decontamination protocol (NALC-1.5% NaOH) was then applied to milk samples (n=144) collected from cows at 7 US dairies. Recovery of viable MAP from the milk samples was low, regardless of culture medium, with recovery from 2 samples cultured in BACTEC 12B medium, 1 sample cultured in para-JEM medium, and no viable MAP recovered on HEY medium. However, 32 cows were fecal culture positive and 13 milk samples were positive by direct PCR, suggesting that several cows were actively shedding MAP at the time of milk collection. Contamination rates were similar across media, with 39.6, 34.7, and 41.7% of samples contaminated after culture in BACTEC 12B, para-JEM, and HEY media, respectively. Herd-to-herd variation had a major effect on sample contamination, with the percentage of contaminated samples ranging from 4 to 83%. It was concluded that decontamination of milk with NALC-1.5% NaOH before culture in BACTEC 12B medium was the most efficacious method for the recovery of viable MAP from milk, although the ability to suppress the growth of contaminating microorganisms varied greatly between herds.