Performance of TB immunodiagnostic tests in Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) of different ages and the influence of duration of infection on serological sensitivity

Mark A. Chambers*, Sue Waterhouse, Konstantin Lyashchenko, Richard Delahay, Robin Sayers, R. Glyn Hewinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (SciVal)


Background: In parts of Great Britain and Ireland, Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) constitute a reservoir of Mycobacterium bovis infection and a potential source of infection for cattle. In vitro diagnostic tests for live badgers are an important component of strategies to control TB in this species. Immunological tests have been developed for badgers, although little is known about the influence of the age of the animal on test performance. To address this, we evaluated the performance of three immunological tests for badgers with respect to the age of the animal: the Brock Test and BrockTB STAT-PAK® serological tests and the recently developed interferon-gamma enzyme immunoassay (IFNγ EIA). Data published elsewhere suggested that seropositivity was associated with more progressive forms of TB in the badger. To gain further evidence for this, we used longitudinal data from a well-studied population of badgers to test for an association between the sensitivity of the Brock Test and the duration of TB infection.Results: Sensitivity of the two serological tests was approximately 54% for both cubs and adults. Sensitivity of the IFNγ EIA was lower in cubs (57%) compared with adults (85%) when a common cut-off value was used to define test positivity. Taking data from the cubs alone, the IFNγ EIA cut-off value could be adjusted to increase the sensitivity to 71% with no loss in specificity. As a general observation, specificity of all tests was higher in cubs, although only significantly so in the case of the Brock Test. Using logistic regression analysis to adjust for age, sensitivity of the Brock Test was significantly lower at first culture positive event (58%), but increased to >80% as infection progressed.Conclusion: These data suggest that serodiagnosis could be a valuable tool for detecting a higher proportion of badgers with the greatest probability of transmitting infection. The age category of the badger appeared to exert little influence on the performance of the serological tests. Although data were only available for the IFNγ EIA in a small number of cubs, reduced sensitivity of the test in these individuals suggests a lower cut-off may be needed when testing younger animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2009


  • purify protein derivative
  • optical density
  • myobacterium bovis
  • Great Britain
  • culture positive result


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