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Development of a Method to Detect Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in the Blood of Farmed Deer Using Actiphage® Rapid

Kubala, Anton; Perehinec, Tania M.; Evans, Catherine; Pirovano, Andrea; Swift, Benjamin M. C.; Rees, Catherine E. D.


Anton Kubala

Tania M. Perehinec

Catherine Evans

Andrea Pirovano

Benjamin M. C. Swift

Catherine E. D. Rees


Benjamin Swift


Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of Johne's disease, which is an economically and clinically relevant pathogen for commercial deer production. The purpose of this study was to develop a method that could be used to rapidly detect MAP infection in deer using the Actiphage Rapid blood test. This test has previously been used to detect MAP in cattle blood following the purification of buffy coat using Ficoll gradients, however this method is quite laborious and costly. The purpose of this study was to develop a simpler method of blood preparation that was also compatible with deer blood and the Actiphage test. Initially differential lysis of RBCs using Ammonium Chloride-Potassium (ACK) blood lysis buffer was compared with the Ficoll gradient centrifugation method using cattle blood samples for compatibility with the Actiphage reagents, and it was found that the simpler ACK method did not have an impact on the Actiphage test reagents, producing an equivalent sensitivity for detection of low levels of MAP. When the two methods were compared using clinical blood samples from farmed deer, the ACK lysis method resulted in a cleaner sample. When a blinded test of 132 animals from 4 different production groups was carried out, the majority of the positive test results were found to be from animals in just one group, with a small number identified in a second group. The test results were found to be reproducible when a small set of positive animals were tested again 1 month after their initial testing. Finally a set of negative animals which had been previously screened using an ELISA test, all animals gave a negative Actiphage result. This study shows that this improved sample preparation method and Actiphage blood testing can be used to test blood samples from deer, and the full diagnostic potential of the method can now be evaluated.


Kubala, A., Perehinec, T. M., Evans, C., Pirovano, A., Swift, B. M. C., & Rees, C. E. D. (2021). Development of a Method to Detect Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in the Blood of Farmed Deer Using Actiphage® Rapid. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 21, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 29, 2021
Publication Date Jul 29, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 1, 2021
Journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Keywords General Veterinary
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