Comparison of two enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for diagnosis of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2005 Sep;17(5):463-6. doi: 10.1177/104063870501700510.


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are used in Johne's disease (JD) control programs as a first screening for presence of the disease in a herd. A high sensitivity of the ELISA is therefore important, yet the commonly used ELISAs have relatively low sensitivity. The inclusion of an absorption phase, although improving specificity, potentially decreases sensitivity. Sera and feces of 383 adult dairy cows in 8 herds were used to compare the test characteristics of an absorbed and a nonabsorbed indirect ELISA for the detection of JD. The absorbed ELISA is based on a protoplasmic antigen, whereas the nonabsorbed uses a lipoarabinomannan-based antigen. The potential advantage of the nonabsorbed ELISA is that it may be less specific and more sensitive. Two herds certified free of JD were used to compare the specificity of the ELISAs. The other herds used to compare sensitivity were either infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis or had unknown status. Using fecal culture as a gold standard, the diagnostic specificity for the absorbed and nonabsorbed ELISAs were 98.4% and 87.9%, respectively. The diagnostic sensitivity was 72.4% and 65.5% for the absorbed and the nonabsorbed ELISA, respectively. Furthermore, a comparison using a fecal DNA probe as the comparison standard resulted in both ELISAs having a sensitivity of 61.9%. Agreement between the 2 ELISAs was moderate, with a kappa statistic of 0.58. The nonabsorbed ELISA did not have a higher sensitivity and had a lower specificity than the absorbed ELISA. Therefore, in this population, there was no advantage gained with using the nonabsorbed ELISA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology
  • Enteritis / blood
  • Enteritis / microbiology
  • Enteritis / veterinary*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / isolation & purification*
  • Paratuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Paratuberculosis / microbiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antigens, Bacterial