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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparison of the MGIT 960, BACTEC 460 TB and solid media for isolation of Mycobacterium bovis in United States veterinary specimens

Suelee Robbe-Austerman*, Doris M Bravo and Beth Harris

Author affiliations

United States Department of Agriculture, Mycobacteria and Brucella Section, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Veterinary Services, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Ames, IA, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:74  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-74

Published: 11 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Bacteriologic culture remains one of the most important methods to diagnose bovine tuberculosis despite the lengthy incubation time, significant decontamination and media expense, and high biocontainment requirements. Media selection is an important determination of culture sensitivity, and the planned discontinuation of the BACTEC 460 TB culture system has challenged veterinary diagnostic laboratories to evaluate alternatives. At the National Veterinary Services Laboratories the BACTEC MGIT 960 and 4 solid media formulations were compared with the BACTEC 460 TB system on 6,795 veterinary diagnostic specimens submitted for Mycobacterium bovis culture.

Results

M. bovis was isolated from 2.6% of the samples and atypical mycobacteria from 4.4% of the samples. The BACTEC 12B media isolated significantly more M. bovis (93.1% of positive samples) than MGIT 960 media (81.9%). However, contamination rates were much higher for the MGIT media, 17-24%, compared to 7% for BACTEC, suggesting that contamination was a major cause of MGIT reduced sensitivity. Time to signal positive was 2.37 weeks (95% CI 2.24-2.5) for the MGIT, and 3.2 weeks (95% CI 3.07-3.3) for the BACTEC, both earlier than any solid media. Mycobactosel LJ failed to isolate M. bovis from primary culture. An in-house 7H11 media supplemented with calf sera, hemolyzed blood, malachite green and pyruvate recovered more M. bovis (80.6%) with the least amount of contamination of any other solid media evaluated.

Conclusion

Decontamination methods may have to be optimized and or MGIT media may have to be altered to reduce contamination in veterinary samples. Despite these issues, the MGIT 960 system is still favored over the use of solid media due to decreased time to recovery and the potential for higher sensitivity.