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Location: Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research

Title: A pilot study exploring the use of breath analysis to differentiate healthy cattle from cattle experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis

item Ellis, Christine
item Stahl, Randal
item Nol, Pauline
item Waters, Wade
item Palmer, Mitchell
item Rhyan, Jack
item Vercauteren, Kurt
item Mccollum, Matthew
item Salman, M

Submitted to: PLoS One
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2014
Publication Date: 2/24/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Ellis, C., Stahl, R., Nol, P., Waters, W.R., Palmer, M.V., Rhyan, J.C., VerCauteren, K., McCollum, M., Salman, M.D. 2014. A pilot study exploring the use of breath analysis to differentiate healthy cattle from cattle experimentally infected with Mycobacterium bovis. PLoS One. 9(2):e89280.

Interpretive Summary: Despite highly successful eradication efforts in several countries, tuberculosis of cattle remains a serious health concern worldwide. Within the United States, tuberculosis infection of cattle originates from three primary sources: importation of tuberculous cattle from Mexico, spillover of the pathogen from a wildlife reservoir (i.e., White-tailed deer in Michigan), and from farmed deer. In the present study, breath samples were collected from cattle infected with bovine tuberculosis and compared to breath samples from non-infected cattle. Differences were detected in chemicals emitted within the breath of infected versus non-infected cattle. These differences may be used to develop a new test for bovine tuberculosis, providing a potential new tool for the control of this costly disease.

Technical Abstract: Bovine tuberculosis is a zoonotic disease of international public health importance. Ante mortem surveillance is essential for control; however, current tests are hampered by limitations that affect ease of use or quality of results. The goal of this study was development of a diagnostic method capable of identifying Mycobacterium bovis infected cattle by detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in breath samples, which would improve surveillance and diagnostic capabilities. The results of our study demonstrate the ability of this method to differentiate between healthy-and M. bovis infected cattle, and to discriminate between different strains of M. bovis and environmental samples collected from rooms housing healthy or infected cattle. Seventeen compounds of interest were identified utilizing two different analyses. This combined approach improved our capability to explore regions in the chromatograms that may have been excluded from consideration had either analysis been used in isolation, and lead us to conclude that the compounds identified in our study do not represent unique biomarkers produced by M. bovis, but instead represent quantitative metabolic perturbations occurring as a result of host-pathogen interactions.