Paratuberculosis, also known as Johne’s Disease, is caused by the presence of the Myobacterium avium spp paratuberculosis in the small intestine of ruminants. It is a worldwide animal health problem affecting in particular, beef and dairy herds. It is a chronic debilitating enteritis and the presence of the disease in an animal herd can have serious production-limiting consequences. Diagnosis of clinical infection is usually confirmed by the demonstration of the causal organism, M. avium ssp paratuberculosis in faeces or in intestinal tissues post mortem. The identification of sub clinical disease in animals, which can shed the organism over long periods and thus be the source of infection for other members of a herd, is more difficult. The prevalence of bovine paratuberculosis in Europe varies from country to country ranging from 7% to 55%.
Human health risk
The causative bacterium of paratuberculosis, Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis, is known to survive pasteurization of milk and other dairy products and therefore could be a risk to human health. Increasing scientific evidence indicates that there is a link between paratuberculosis in dairy herds and Crohn’s disease in humans. Crohn’s disease is an incurable, chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
Paratuberculosis in domestic livestock may entail significant economic losses due to several factors such as reduced production, premature culling and veterinary costs. In the United States, paratuberculosis is of growing concern to the cattle industry because the presence of the disease impacts international marketing of cattle and cattle products, which causes economic losses to producers. Consequently, a voluntary Johne's Disease Herd Status Program for Cattle (VJDHSP) has been established. In April of 2002, USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Service incorporated parts of this program into its national program standards.
Within the European Union, there are no official programs in place; however, country specific policies apply.
Australia has a National Johne’s Disease Control Program (NJDCP) that aims to reduce the spread and the impact of Johne’s disease. It is a cooperative program involving Australian livestock industries, government and the veterinary profession. Animal Health Australia manages the program on behalf of these key stakeholders.
Prionics PARACHEK® 2 test offers a reliable and useful immunoassay for effective detection, control and management of paratuberculosis. The test has also shown to detect affected animals before they develop clinical signs. The PARACHEK® 2 is automatable, enabling handling of a larger number of samples in a shorter time.