Strategic use of serology for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis after intradermal skin testing

Carmen Casal, Alberto Díez-Guerrier, Julio Álvarez, Sabrina Rodriguez-Campos, Ana Mateos, Richard Linscott, Edmond Martel, John C. Lawrence, Clare Whelan, John Clarke, Amanda O'Brien, Lucas Domínguez, Alicia Aranaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Diagnostic tests based on cell-mediated immunity are used in programmes for eradication of bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis). Serological assays could be applied as ancillary methods to detect infected animals. Our objective was to evaluate two serological techniques: M. bovis Ab Test (IDEXX, USA) and Enferplex™ TB assay (Enfer, Ireland) in animals tested simultaneously with the single and comparative intradermal tests and the interferon-gamma assay. This work was performed at two stages. First, a preliminary panel of samples collected prior to intradermal tests from tuberculosis-free (n = 60) and M. bovis-infected herds (n = 78) was assayed, obtaining high specificity: 100% (M. bovis Ab Test) and 98.3% (Enferplex TB assay) but low sensitivity (detection of M. bovis infected animals): 23.9% (M. bovis Ab Test) and 32.6% (Enferplex TB assay). Subsequently, the use of serological techniques was further studied in two herds with M. bovis infection (n = 77) using samples collected prior to, and 72. h and 15 days after PPD inoculation. The highest level of detection of infected animals for serology was achieved at 15 days post-intradermal tests taking advantage of the anamnestic effect: 70.4% and 85.2% in herd A, and 66.7% and 83.3% in herd B, using M. bovis Ab Test and Enferplex TB assay, respectively. Quantitative results (average values obtained with M. bovis Ab Test ELISA and degree of positivity obtained with Enferplex TB assay) were higher in animals showing lesions compatible with tuberculosis. No significant differences were observed in the number of confirmed infected animals detected with either serological technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-351
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the European Project FP7-KBBE-2007-212414 “Strategies for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (TB-STEP)” and the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment Affairs. C. Casal is recipient of a research contract assigned by Comunidad de Madrid (FINNOVA II Programme). We thank the Mycobacteria and Computer and Communication Units staff for their technical support.


  • Boosting effect
  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Serological response


Dive into the research topics of 'Strategic use of serology for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis after intradermal skin testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this