Background: Cases of Mycobacterium bovis infection South American camelids have been increasing in Great Britain. Current antemortem immunological tests have some limitations. Cases at post mortem examination frequently show extensive pathology. The feasibility of detecting Mycobacterium bovis DNA in clinical samples was investigated.
Findings: A sensitive extraction methodology was developed and used on nasal swabs and faeces taken post-mortem to assess the potential for a PCR test to detect Mycobacterium bovis in clinical samples. The gross pathology of the studied South American camelids was scored and a significantly greater proportion of South American camelids with more severe pathology were positive in both the nasal swab and faecal PCR tests. A combination of the nasal swab and faecal PCR tests detected 63.9% of all the South American camelids with pathology that were tested.
Conclusions: The results suggest that antemortem diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis in South American camelids may be possible using a PCR test on clinical samples, however more work is required to determine sensitivity and specificity, and the practicalities of applying the test in the field.