Comparative evaluation of positive tests to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in clinically healthy sheep and goats in south-west Greece using molecular techniques, serology, and culture

Vet J. 2007 Sep;174(2):337-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2006.09.004. Epub 2006 Nov 2.


Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the cause of paratuberculosis, which affects mainly ruminants although there is a growing concern about its possible implication in Crohn's disease in humans especially in connection with environmental spread and risks to the food chain. Retail cheese may represent a significant source of human exposure to MAP and the aim of this study was to assess MAP status in clinically healthy sheep and goats in Greece, comparing techniques routinely used in the positive diagnosis of the disease. From a total of 30 flocks, 632 sheep and goats had faecal, serum, and whole-blood samples examined by culture, complement fixation test (CFT), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeted at IS900, IS1245, and IS6110. PCR produced positive results in 21% of the animals tested, with 5.6%, 3.9%, and 11.5% being identified as MAP, Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, respectively. CFT produced positive and suspicious results in 4.4% and 14.4% of the cases. Faecal cultures were negative in all but a single case that was identified as restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP)-type BC1. Agreement between results obtained by PCR and CFT was poor with isolated cases although an assessment of the MAP positive tests produced similar results for both methods. The findings indicate the need for additional measures of control, although the costs may be substantial if public health protection justifies elimination of MAP from livestock.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colony Count, Microbial / methods
  • Colony Count, Microbial / veterinary*
  • Complement Fixation Tests / methods
  • Complement Fixation Tests / veterinary
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Goat Diseases / blood
  • Goat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Goat Diseases / epidemiology
  • Goats
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis* / genetics
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis* / isolation & purification
  • Paratuberculosis / blood
  • Paratuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Paratuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Public Health
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases / blood
  • Sheep Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sheep Diseases / epidemiology
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Bacterial