Objectives: To determine the sensitivity of bacteriologic culture of pooled fecal samples in detecting Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, compared with bacteriologic culture of individual fecal samples in dairy cattle herds.
Study design: Cross-sectional study.
Animals: 24 dairy cattle herds.
Procedure: Individual and pooled fecal samples were submitted for bacteriologic culture, and results were compared between these groups.
Results: Ninety-four and 88% of pooled fecal samples that contained feces from at least 1 animal with high (mean, > or = 50 colonies/tube) and moderate (mean, 10 to 49 colonies/tube) concentrations of M paratuberculosis, respectively, were identified by use of bacteriologic culture of pooled fecal samples. Prevalences of paratuberculosis determined by bacteriologic culture of pooled and individual fecal samples were highly correlated.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Bacteriologic culture of pooled fecal samples provided a valid and cost-effective method for the detection of M paratuberculosis infection in dairy cattle herds and can be used to estimate prevalence of infection within a herd.