Assessment of the sensitivity of the gamma-interferon test and the single intradermal comparative cervical test for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis under field conditions

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In some French départements, the eradication of bovine tuberculosis is incomplete and usual skin tests [single intradermal tuberculin test (SIT) and single intradermal comparative cervical test (SICCT)] have poor specificity due to cross-reactions with non-pathogenic mycobacteria, causing economic losses. In Côte d'Or (Burgundy, France), an experimental serial testing scheme based on the combination of SICCT and gamma-interferon (IFN-γ) tests has been initiated in order to shorten the interval between suspicion and its invalidation in herds with false-positive results to skin tests. Our aim was to assess the scheme's sensitivity and to compare it to the sensitivity of the screening scheme recommended by the European Commission. Our study included 1768 animals from Côte d'Or. The sensitivities of both schemes were estimated using a Bayesian approach. The individual sensitivity of the IFN-γ test [88·1%, 95% credibility interval (CrI) 72·8–97·5] was not significantly different from individual SICCT sensitivity (80·3%, 95% CrI 61·6–98·0) and individual SIT sensitivity (84·2%, 95% CrI 59·0–98·2). The individual specificity of the IFN-γ test was 62·3% (95% CrI 60·2–64·5). No significant difference could be demonstrated between the sensitivities of the serial testing scheme used in Côte d'Or (73·1%, 95% CrI 41·1–100) and the European Union serial testing scheme (70·1%, 95% CrI 31·5–100·0).

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