Modification of the QuantiFERON-TB Gold (In-Tube) assay for the diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis infection in African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer)
African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) are the most significant wildlife maintenance hosts of Mycobacterium bovis, the causative organism of bovine tuberculosis (BTB). Current diagnostic tests for the detection of M. bovis infection in free-ranging buffaloes have numerous limitations and we wished to evaluate a modification to a human TB assay, the QuantiFERON-TB Gold (In-Tube) assay (QFT), as a practical diagnostic test for BTB in buffaloes. One hundred and seventy-five buffaloes were tested using the single intradermal comparative tuberculin test (SICTT) and a modified QFT (mQFT). An appropriate cut-off point for the mQFT was derived from SICTT results using receiver operator characteristic curve analysis. Twenty-six SICTT-positive buffaloes were killed and subjected to necropsy, and selected tissues were processed for mycobacterial culture and speciation. An optimal cut-off point for the mQFT was calculated as 66. pg/ml. The assay correctly detected 39/40 SICTT-positive buffaloes and 129/134 TST-negative buffaloes and M. bovis was cultured from 21/26 slaughtered SICTT/mQFT-positive animals. The mQFT shows promise as a practical test for M. bovis infection in buffaloes and shows a sensitivity and specificity at least similar to that of the TST. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.