The primary isolation of a Mycobacterium sp. of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex from an infected animal provides a definitive diagnosis of tuberculosis. However, as Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium caprae are difficult to isolate, particularly for animals in the early stages of disease, success is dependent on the optimal performance of all aspects of the bacteriological process, from the initial choice of tissue samples at post-mortem examination or clinical samples, to the type of media and conditions used to cultivate the microorganism. Each step has its own performance characteristics, which can contribute to sensitivity and specificity of the procedure, and may need to be optimized in order to achieve the gold standard diagnosis. Having isolated the slow-growing mycobacteria, species identification and fine resolution strain typing are keys to understanding the epidemiology of the disease and to devise strategies to limit transmission of infection. New technologies have emerged that can now even discriminate different isolates from the same animal. In this review we highlight the key factors that contribute to the accuracy of bacteriological diagnosis of M. bovis and M. caprae, and describe the development of advanced genotyping techniques that are increasingly used in diagnostic laboratories for the purpose of supporting detailed epidemiological investigations.
University College Dublin ->