Open Access Open Badges Methodology article

Development and validation of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibodies against Mycobacterium bovis in european wild boar

Olaia Aurtenetxe1, Marta Barral1, Joaquín Vicente2, José de la Fuente2, Christian Gortázar2 and Ramón A Juste1*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario (NEIKER-TECNALIA), Berreaga 1, 48160 Derio, Spain

2 IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain

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BMC Veterinary Research 2008, 4:43  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-4-43

Published: 1 November 2008



Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) remains a significant problem in some parts of Spain largely because of contacts between cattle and wildlife reservoirs in extensive grazing systems. European Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is one of the species involved in the transmission of the disease to other species. Fast and simple detection methods would be critical for assessing infection prevalence, study the mechanisms of pathogen transmission and monitoring the effects of TB control measures.


An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect antibodies against Mycobacterium bovis in wild boar serum was developed and validated on 185 sera from TB positive and negative wild boar. Based on antigen inoculation of captive animals as well as tuberculosis compatible lesions, culture results and molecular analysis of hunted individuals, animals were allocated into two groups: tuberculosis positive group and tuberculosis negative group. After optimization of the positive to negative ratio using different combinations of serum dilutions and conjugate concentrations, the test yielded a sensitivity of 72.60% and a specificity of 96.43% for the best cut-off.


Although some negative group animals showed an ELISA positive reaction (< 3%), this assay showed a high potential for accurate diagnosis of TB in wild boar, as its large dynamic range supported a good discriminatory power and a satisfactory balance between sensitivity and specificity.