Field Comparison of the Interferon-Gamma Assay and the Intradermal Tuberculin Test for the Diagnosis of Bovine Tuberculosis

Aust Vet J. 1991 Sep;68(9):286-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.1991.tb03254.x.


An extensive field comparison of the gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) assay and the single intradermal tuberculin test for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis was conducted in Australia. The specificity of the IFN-gamma assay was determined by testing more than 6000 cattle from tuberculosis-free herds and varied from 96.2% to 98.1%, depending on the cut-off point chosen to define a positive reactor. For the sensitivity trial, cattle from herds being de-populated because of bovine tuberculosis were examined with both assays. The sensitivity of the IFN-gamma assay was shown to be significantly higher than the single intradermal tuberculin test and varied from 76.8% to 93.6% depending on the method of interpretation. A maximum overall sensitivity of 95.2% was obtained by testing with the IFN-gamma and the tuberculin test in parallel. The superior sensitivity of the IFN-gamma assay and the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the system depending on the task involved, will provide the Australian Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign with a valuable additional test to enable it to accomplish its goals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Buffaloes
  • Cattle
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculin Test / methods
  • Tuberculin Test / veterinary*
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / diagnosis*


  • Interferon-gamma