2010 Volume 72 Issue 10 Pages 1283-1288
Paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) has emerged as one of the most important diseases in cattle. The role of infected bull semen in the spread of infection remains unclear, as the correlation between the amount of excreted Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (semen and feces) and the infection load (blood and tissues) has not been defined. The aim of the present study was to study by culture, and a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, the presence of bacteria in consecutive semen, blood, and fecal samples collected from one infected Piedmont breeding bull during a 380-day period. Five out of seven blood samples and all nine semen samples were positive in the real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction with 101 to 102 and 102 to 104 copies of IS900/F57 per ml, respectively. In all, there were 9 fecal culture positive samples with too numerous to count colony forming units and positive real-time quantitative polymerase chain reactions ranging from 105 to 107 copies of IS900/F57. After the bull was euthanized, Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis was cultured from various parts of the small and large intestines, liver tissue and lymph nodes and from the epididymis and vesicular glands. The results demonstrate a wide extraintestinal distribution of the bacterium and that breeding bulls should be considered a source of paratuberculosis infection due to their contact with other breeding bulls and a high number of heifers and cows through the natural mating process.