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Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00027

Successful application of the interferon gamma test in a bovine tuberculosis eradication program: the French bullfighting herd experience

Nicolas Keck1,  Maria L. Boschiroli2*, Valérie Vogler3,  Florence Smyej4,  Jean L. Moyen5 and Stéphanie Desvaux6
  • 1Laboratoire Départemental Vétérinaire de l’Hérault, France
  • 2Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail (ANSES), France
  • 3Direction Départementale de la Protection des Populations, France
  • 4Direction Régionale de l'Alimentation, de l'Agriculture et de la Forêt Occitanie, France
  • 5Laboratoire d’Analyses et de Recherche de Dordogne, France
  • 6Unité Sanitaire de la Faune, Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS), France

In the French Camargue region, where bovine tuberculosis had been enzootic for several years in bullfighting cattle herds, the interferon gamma (IFN) test was used since 2003 in parallel with the intradermal test in order to increase overall disease detection sensitivity in infected herds. This study presents the results of a field-evaluation of the test during a 10-years period (2004-2014) of disease control and surveillance program and explores the particular pattern of IFN test results in bullfight herds in comparison to cattle from other regions of France. Although being quite low, the individual sensitivity rate (59.2% [50.6; 67.3]) of IFN test using the tuberculins’ stimulation remains much higher than those of the SICT in this particular epidemiological context. This low sensitivity could be related to the poor IFN production of bullfight infected cattle blood cells which is significantly lower than in animals of conventional breeds. The characteristics of the test were progressively adapted to the epidemiological situation and the desired strategic applications. Data analysis with a ROC curve based on a simple S/P value algorithm allowed determining a new cut-off adapted for a global screening, giving good specificity results and a high accuracy of the test. Having regularly risen to above 5% since 2005, with a peak around 10% in 2010, the annual incidence dropped to under 1% in 2014. The positive predictive value evolved during the years, from 33% in 2009 to 12% during the last screening period, a normal trend in a context of decreasing prevalence. The estimated rate of apparent false positive reactions during screening campaigns was 0.67%, showing that specificity was under control. The proportion of false positive reactions decreased with the age and was higher in males than in females. Although these results indicate that the IFN test is accurate in the field, it also emphasizes great differences between interferon quantity produced by bullfight cattle blood samples compared to those of classical bovine breeds, which underlines the necessity to adapt the algorithms and combinations of the tests according to local epidemiological contexts.

Keywords: bovine tuberculosis, screening, gamma interferon assay, Field performances, Strategic use, eradication

Received: 31 Oct 2017; Accepted: 09 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Julio Alvarez, University of Minnesota, United States

Reviewed by:

Andrew W. Byrne, Agri Food and Biosciences Institute, United Kingdom
Michele A. Miller, Stellenbosch University, South Africa  

Copyright: © 2018 Keck, Boschiroli, Vogler, Smyej, Moyen and Desvaux. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Maria L. Boschiroli, Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail (ANSES), Maisons-Alfort, France,