Diagnosing bovine tuberculosis is complicated, and a diagnostic gold standard that can detect all infected animals is not currently available. Conventional diagnostic tools (i.e., detection of antibodies or antigens) can be used only in the late stages of the disease. Consequently, the most widely used first bovine tuberculosis diagnostics are based on the cell-mediated immune response, which is determined by either skin or blood testing.
Differences exist among bovine tuberculosis tests with respect to the time point and the sensitivity for detection of the disease. The choice of tests and their applications is dependent on both the risk of bovine tuberculosis infection in a region and the goal of a bovine tuberculosis program. Optimal TB programs enable sanitary decisions to be made sooner, increase the speed of a test and cull program, and help minimize the duration of farm closures.
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