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Blood culture and stimulation conditions for the diagnosis of tuberculosis in cervids by the Cervigam assay
  1. W. R. Waters, DVM, PhD1,
  2. M. V. Palmer, DVM, PhD1,
  3. T. C. Thacker, MS, PhD1,
  4. K. Orloski, DVM, MS, DACVPM4,
  5. P. Nol, DVM, MS5,
  6. N. P. Harrington, DVM, PhD6,
  7. S. C. Olsen, DVM, PhD2 and
  8. B. J. Nonnecke, MS, PhD3
  1. 1 Tuberculosis Research Project
  2. 2 Brucellosis Research Project
  3. 3 Periparturient Diseases of Cattle Research Project, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ames, Iowa 50010, USA
  4. 4 National Tuberculosis Eradication Program, Veterinary Services
  5. 5 National Wildlife Research Center, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA
  6. 6 Ottawa Laboratory Fallowfield, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, Ontario, K2H 8P9 Canada


Mitogen- and antigen-induced interferon-γ (ifn-γ) responses of peripheral blood leucocytes from cervids were evaluated by a commercial whole-blood assay. The assay was applied to Mycobacterium bovis-infected white-tailed deer and reindeer, M bovis bcg-vaccinated white-tailed deer and elk, and unvaccinated, uninfected white-tailed deer, fallow deer, elk and reindeer. The responses of the M bovis-infected white-tailed deer to pokeweed mitogen (pwm) varied with time and between individuals. The responses of the M bovis-infected reindeer to pwm and M bovis purified protein derivative (ppd) were positively associated. Samples from tuberculosis-free captive herds in various parts of the usa were also evaluated. Four per cent of fallow deer, 20 per cent of elk, 44 per cent of white-tailed deer, and 91 per cent of reindeer had responses to pwm exceeding 0·25 Δ optical density, that is, pwm stimulation minus no stimulation. The specificity of the responses to M bovis ppd and a Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex-specific antigen resat-6:cfp-10, excluding animals not responding to pwm, ranged from 78 per cent to 100 per cent and was dependent upon the species and the positive response cut-off value. The results show that the commercial assay is valid for the detection of tb in reindeer; however, further development of the assay will be required before it is used in surveillance programmes for white-tailed deer, fallow deer, and elk.

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