Genetic epidemiology and familial risk factors for paratuberculosis seropositivity in beef cattle
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Paratuberculosis is an intestinal infection of ruminants caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). Genetic associations with paratuberculosis have been described in Holstein cattle. The objectives were to describe the association between paratuberculosis status of the dam and her offspring in beef cattle, develop methods to assess familial aggregation of paratuberculosis in cattle of unknown pedigree, and model the paratuberculosis status of beef cattle given familial and herdlevel covariates. Texas beef cattle were tested for paratuberculosis using serum antibody and microbiologic culture of feces. Available pedigree data were used to confirm familial relationships. The association between the paratuberculosis ELISA status of the dam and her offspring was assessed using mixed-effects models. Increased odds of being classified as a “suspect” or greater based on ELISA results were observed if the dam was classified as a “suspect” or greater. A positive linear association was observed between the ELISA value of the dam and her offspring. Analysis of pedigree data using conditional logistic regression identified ancestors associated with significantly increased odds of being classified as “low positive” or greater. Microsatellite markers were used to classify cattle into genetically similar groups using allele frequency data. Nine clusters of genetically similar cattle were identified among paratuberculosis test positive cattle, herd matched controls, and pedigreed cattle. Clusters were validated using animals of known pedigree. Increased odds of paratuberculosis seropositivity were observed for some clusters compared to the cluster with the lowest seroprevalence. A predictive model was developed using a Bayesian framework to assess the association between antibody status of the dam and her offspring adjusted for herd-level risk factors. Predictors associated with highly probable increased odds of seropositivity included herd seroprevalence and herd fecal prevalence of MAP. The association between dam and offspring ELISA status was small (OR 1.35) and not highly probable. The results of this work support familial aggregation of paratuberculosis ELISA status, but herd-level risk factors appear to be more important in predicting ELISA status. A large proportion of observed serological reactions were not supported by fecal culture results; therefore, observed associations might be limited to humoral responses to Mycobacterium spp.
Osterstock, Jason Barrett (2007). Genetic epidemiology and familial risk factors for paratuberculosis seropositivity in beef cattle. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from