Is the transmission of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection through milk intended to feed calves an overlooked item in paratuberculosis control programs?

  • Pamela Steuer
  • Bernardita Collado
  • Carolina Avilez
  • Carlos Tejeda
  • Juan P. Soto
  • Miguel SalgadoEmail author
Regular Articles


As in many parts of the world, Chile shows a high Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) infection rate. Evidently, the control recommendations have been inefficient. In the author’s opinion, the potential risk of MAP transmission to susceptible calves through milk consumption is largely overlooked. Two observational studies were performed, one to confirm MAP shedding in young stock in a high MAP-infected dairy herd and MAP load in milk intended to feed these calves was estimated. In parallel, in a second study, we estimated the relationship between MAP herd seroprevalence and the cow MAP shedding level as well as the presence of this pathogen in milk used to feed dairy calves. In the first study, 53.7% of cows and 22.5% of calves showed positive culture results. Among all cows tested, 9 (2.19%) animals had a positive serum ELISA, and MAP load in milk reached 106 bacteria/mL. In the second study, three seroprevalence categories were established as follows: high (≥ 9%), medium (> 5% and ≤ 9%), and low (≤ 5%). Statistical significant differences among these categories were observed. Animals from the high seroprevalence category shed significantly more MAP than the others. However, in the low category, heavy shedder animals were also observed. Finally, in all study herds, MAP presence in milk intended to feed calves was reported, even from herds without ELISA-positive animals.


Paratuberculosis Control Milk ELISA Observational studies 


Funding information

This work was supported by FONDECYT Grant (1161633) and DID S-2015-48 grant. Pamela Steuer was the recipient of a Doctoral Studentship from the Chilean government (CONICYT) during the present study and it was part of a Doctoral Thesis of the Universidad Austral de Chile.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was carried out in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide of Use of Animals for Research of Universidad Austral de Chile (


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Steuer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bernardita Collado
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carolina Avilez
    • 1
  • Carlos Tejeda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juan P. Soto
    • 3
  • Miguel Salgado
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Medicina Preventiva Veterinaria, Facultad de Ciencias VeterinariasUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  2. 2.Escuela de Graduados, Facultad de Ciencias VeterinariasUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  3. 3.ProlesurLos LagosChile

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