Evidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteraemia in intradermal skin test positive cattle detected using phage-RPA

Swift, B M C and Convery, T W and Rees, C E (2016) Evidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteraemia in intradermal skin test positive cattle detected using phage-RPA. Virulence, 7 (7). pp. 779-88.

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Abstract

Bovine tuberculosis is a zoonotic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis that affects cattle and can cause tuberculosis in a range of wildlife animals. A bacteriophage-based method combined with PCR (phage-PCR) has been recently used to detect and identify viable pathogenic mycobacteria in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of animals suffering from paratuberculosis. To adapt this method for the detection of M. bovis in blood, a new isothermal DNA amplification protocol using Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) was developed and was found to be able to detect M. bovis BCG within 48 h, with a limit of detection of approximately 10 cells per ml of blood for artificially inoculated blood samples. When blood samples (2 ml) from a Single Comparative Cervical Intradermal Tuberculin (SCCIT)- negative beef herd were tested, Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) cells were not detected from any (45) of the blood samples. However when blood samples from SCCIT-positive animals were tested, viable MTC bacteria were detected in 66 % (27/41) of samples. Of these 41 animals sampled, 32 % (13) had visible lesions. In the visible lesion (VL) group, 85 % (11/13) had detectable levels of MTC whereas only 57 % (16/28) of animals which had no visible lesions (NVL) were found to have detectable mycobacteraemia. These results indicated that this simple, rapid method can be applied for the study of M. bovis infections. The frequency with which viable mycobacteria were detected in the peripheral blood of SCCIT-positive animals changes the paradigm of this disease.

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