Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #174901


item Stabel, Judith
item Goff, Jesse

Submitted to: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2004
Publication Date: 9/1/2004
Citation: Stabel, J.R., Goff, J.P. 2004. Efficacy of immunolgic assays for the detection of Johne's disease in dairy cows fed additional energy during the periparturient period. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 16(5):412-20.

Interpretive Summary: Johne's disease is a chronic, debilitating intestinal disorder in cattle characterized by diarrhea, reduced feed intake, weight loss and death. Cattle usually become infected as young calves by ingesting feces containing the causative bacteria. However, symptoms of disease do not usually present themselves until the animals reach 3 to 5 years of age or even older. Clinical signs of disease may be precipitated by stressors such as parturition, heavy lactation, concomitant viral or bacterial infections, and malnutrition. It is well known that parturition causes cows to become immunosuppressed and makes them more susceptible to infections such as mastitis and metritis. The present study was designed to evaluate the effects of giving additional feed (energy) to cows with Johne's disease in the periparturient period. Results of this study suggest that additional energy may be beneficial for the function of some immune cells and may alleviate some immunosuppression.

Technical Abstract: The present study was designed to evaluate if the immunosuppression typically observed during the immediate periparturient period (3 weeks before and after calving) in dairy cows influences the effectiveness of diagnostic tests for the detection of Johne's disease; and, if providing additional energy to the cows during this period would minimize any immunosuppressive effects. Twelve dairy cows naturally infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis were fitted with rumen cannulas in late gestation and assigned to treatment groups: control, n = 6; or stuffed, n = 6. Cows in the control group were allowed to consume feed ad libitum. Cows assigned to the stuffed treatment group were also fed ad libitum but received additional total mixed ration (TMR) by manually stuffing their rumens with refused feed to maintain a dry matter intake of 2% BW/day before calving and 2.5% BW/day after calving. Parturition had a significant impact on immune function with significant reductions in M. paratuberculosis-specific antibodies detected in the serum and milk regardless of treatment group. Similarly, in vitro immunoglobulin production was decreased at calving for both treatment groups. In addition, stuffing cows modulated cell-mediated immune function by reducing antigen-specific lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-g production after calving. Shedding of M. paratuberculosis in the milk was apparent in 58% (7/12) of cows after parturition with no difference noted between control and stuffed animals. Parturition had no major effect on fecal shedding of cows regardless of treatment. These data suggest that parturition had a significant effect on immune function parameters including diagnostic tests for paratuberculosis. Further, providing additional energy to cows with Johne's disease did not preclude immunosuppressive effects during the periparturient period.