Horizontal transmission of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in cattle in an experimental setting: calves can transmit the infection to other calves

Vet Microbiol. 2007 Jun 21;122(3-4):270-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2007.01.016. Epub 2007 Jan 23.


In September 2001, two subsequent transmission experiments both lasting 3 months were carried out to study cow-calf transmission of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map) (Period 1), followed by calf-calf transmission of the infection (Period 2). Every 2 weeks, serum, heparinised blood and faecal samples were collected from all animals. After these experiments, the 20 calves were housed individually for more than 3 years to be able to detect the infection status and excretion pattern of each animal. In autumn 2004, the animals were inseminated, to observe a possible increase in faecal excretion of Map shortly before expected calving. One month before the expected calving date in 2005, animals were slaughtered and several tissues per cow and unborn calf were sampled for culture. The results indicate that horizontal cow-calf transmission is readily achieved (Period 1). At the highest infection pressure (six shedding cows of which three high shedders in Period 1) all five calves excreted Map in their faeces during Period 1 (shortly after infection), and four of these calves during Period 2 (when the shedding cows were absent). After that, excretion became less frequently. Horizontal calf-calf transmission did take place (Period 2), as the four donor-calves infected two receiver-calves. Transmission rates during the 3 months periods were quantified as a reproduction ratio R. The R [95% CI] of cow-calf and calf-calf transmission were estimated as 2.7 [1.1, 6.6] and 0.9 [0.1, 3.2] new infections per infectious animal during 3 months.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / blood
  • Cattle Diseases / transmission*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / veterinary*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Paratuberculosis / blood
  • Paratuberculosis / transmission*
  • Paratuberculosis / urine