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Comparison of fecal pooling strategies for detection of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis in cattle

McKenna, S.L.B., Ritter, C., Dohoo, I., Keefe, G.P., Barkema, H.W.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.8 pp. 7463-7470
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, cost effectiveness, dairy cows, feces, herds, paratuberculosis, pathogens, probability, simulation models, slaughter
In herds with typical moderate to low within-herd prevalence, testing for Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP), the infectious agent of Johne's disease, will be more cost-effective if individual fecal samples are cultured in composite pools. However, sensitivity to classify a pool containing 1 or more positive individual samples as positive may depend on pool size and number of individual positive samples within a pool. Fecal samples collected from 994 dairy cows sampled at slaughter were cultured to detect MAP. Culturing was done both individually and as composite pooled samples using the TREK ESP Culture System II broth medium (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Trek Diagnostic Systems Inc., Cleveland, OH). Composite samples consisted of pools containing feces from 3, 5, 8, 10, or 15 cows. The number of individual fecal culture-positive cows within each pool ranged from 0 to 4. Culture of individual fecal samples detected MAP in 36 (3.6%) of the 994 cows. Individual samples that were detected within the first 50 d by TREK ESP Culture System II were more likely to lead to a positive pool result. In total, 840 pooled fecal samples were examined for presence of MAP, and of those, 272 pools actually contained feces from fecal culture-positive cows. The crude sensitivity (proportion of pools that contained at least 1 fecal-positive cow that tested positive) for pools of 3, 5, 8, 10, and 15 was 47, 67, 44, 59, and 39%, respectively. Across pools, an increase of the number of fecal culture-positive samples from 1 to 2 enhanced overall crude sensitivity from 44 to 71%. However, sensitivity did not further increase for pools with 3 or 4 fecal culture-positive samples (63 and 60%, respectively). Additionally, a simulation analysis assessing probability of pooled fecal samples being positive in herds of 50 and 100 cows was conducted. The simulation assumed that 1, 2, or 5 cows per herd were MAP fecal culture-positive and that pools of 5 and 10 were used. This low-prevalence herd simulation indicated that weighted mean herd probabilities of detecting a positive herd ranged between 52 and 99.3%, with the lowest probability for pools of 10 with 1 positive cow in the herd and the highest probability for pools of 5 with 5 positive cows in the herd. However, overall, pools of 5 and 10 had similar diagnostic capabilities, enabling cost savings by utilizing pools of 10.