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The effectiveness of parallel gamma-interferon testing in New Zealand's bovine tuberculosis eradication programme.

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 14:43 authored by J.A. Sinclair, K.L. Dawson, Bryce BuddleBryce Buddle
In bovine tuberculosis (bTB) eradication programmes, especially where prevalence is low, sensitivity of testing in infected herds must be maximised to reduce the possibility of recrudescence of prior infection and the risk to other herds via animal movement. The gamma-interferon (γ-IFN) assay applied in parallel with intradermal tuberculin testing has been shown to increase test sensitivity. The aim of this work was to substantiate this effect in the field. A retrospective observational study was conducted on 239 New Zealand cattle breeding and dairy herds with bTB infection between 1 July 2011 and 1 September 2015 to evaluate the outcomes of new policy introduced in 2011. The investigation defined the number and proportion of reactors (animals testing positive and slaughtered) found with lesions of bTB in intradermal caudal fold testing (CFT) and parallel γ-IFN testing, at the breakdown test or first whole herd test after breakdown, WHT(1), and at the final or projected final whole herd test, WHT(F). Parallel γ-IFN testing was used in 26.8% of the 239 herds at WHT(1), and 430 animals in 49 herds were deemed reactors. One hundred and sixty (37.2%) of these reactors from 32 herds were found to have bTB lesions, despite having been negative to caudal fold testing. These 160 infected animals accounted for 29.6% of all infection found at WHT(1). At WHT(F), parallel γ-IFN testing was conducted on 93 herds and detected a total of 122 reactors in 49 herds, in addition to those found by CFT. Twenty-one of these reactors, from 13 herds, had bTB lesions at slaughter, accounting for 67.7% of all reactors found with bTB at WHT(F). Eleven of these 13 herds would have had their movement restrictions revoked based on a negative herd CFT alone, and could potentially have caused outward transmission of bTB to other herds, as well as experiencing recrudescent breakdowns. We conclude that γ-IFN testing in infected herds, in parallel with intradermal tuberculin testing, is a valuable tool in a bTB eradication programme, as it enables higher test sensitivity at both herd and animal level. The use of the γ-IFN test over a risk cohort early in a breakdown assists in removal of early infection and some cases of anergy to intradermal tuberculin testing. Parallel γ-IFN with compulsory slaughter of reactors should be considered in breeding and dairy herds in conjunction with tuberculin testing before movement control is revoked, and will assist in achieving TB freedom on a herd level and nationally.


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© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • English

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  • No



Journal title

Preventative Veterinary Medicine




Sinclair, J. A., Dawson, K. L., & Buddle, B. M. (2016). The effectiveness of parallel gamma-interferon testing in New Zealand's bovine tuberculosis eradication programme. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 127, 94-99. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2016.03.020

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