Main content area

Clinical disease and stage of lactation influence shedding of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis into milk and colostrum of naturally infected dairy cows

Stabel, J.R., Bradner, L., Robbe-Austerman, S., Beitz, D.C.
Journal of dairy science 2014 v.97 no.10 pp. 6296
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, assays, bacterial shedding, calves, colostrum, culture media, dairy cows, disease resistance, disease severity, early lactation, egg yolk, etiological agents, exposure pathways, genes, herds, infection, ingestion, milk, paratuberculosis, polymerase chain reaction, sampling
Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of Johne's disease (JD). One mode of transmission of MAP is through ingestion of contaminated milk and colostrum by susceptible calves. The objective of this study was to determine if the amount of MAP shed into the milk and colostrum of infected cows was affected by severity of infection as well as the number of days in milk (DIM). Milk was collected over the 305-d lactation period from naturally infected cows in the asymptomatic subclinical (n=39) and symptomatic clinical (n=29) stages of disease, as well as 8 noninfected control cows. All milk samples were assayed for MAP by culture on Herrold's egg yolk medium and either BACTEC 12B (Becton Dickinson, Franklin Lakes, NJ) or para-JEM (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Trek Diagnostic Systems Inc., Cleveland, OH) liquid medium, and by direct PCR for the IS900 target gene. Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis was detected in 3.8, 4.1, and 12.6% of milk samples collected from cows with subclinical JD after culture in Herrold's egg yolk medium, liquid medium, and direct PCR, respectively. The frequency of MAP positivity increased to 12.9, 18.4, and 49.2% of milk samples collected from cows with clinical JD by these same methods, respectively. None of the milk samples collected from control cows was positive for MAP by any detection method. Viable MAP was primarily isolated from milk and colostrum of subclinically and clinically infected cows collected in early lactation (DIM 0–60), with negligible positive samples observed in mid (DIM 60–240) and late (DIM 240–305) lactation. This study demonstrates that shedding of MAP into milk is affected by infection status of the cow as well as stage of lactation, providing useful information to producers to help break the cycle of infection within a herd.