Bayesian assessment of the accuracy of a PCR-based rapid diagnostic test for bovine tuberculosis in swine

Soledad Barandiaran, María Sol Pérez Aguirreburualde, María Jimena Marfil, Marcela Martínez Vivot, Natalia Aznar, Martín Zumárraga, Andrés M. Perez

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Infection with the Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) causes a disease referred to as bovine tuberculosis (bTB), which affects a wide range of mammal hosts. Many countries have implemented control and eradication plans that have resulted in variable levels of efficacy and success. Although bTB is a notifiable disease in Argentina, and a control plan that targets cattle herds has been in place for decades, M. bovis is still prevalent in cattle, swine, and certain wild species. The aim of the paper here was to assess the sensitivity (Se), specificity (Sp), and positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV) of PCR from tissue, which is a test for rapid M. bovis detection in swine. Bacteriological culture was also performed for comparison purposes. A Bayesian approach was applied to estimate the accuracy of the diagnostic tests, PCR and bacteriological culture, in 266 swine samples with bTB-like lesions recovered during routine official inspections at slaughterhouses. A one-population model, assuming conditional dependence between test results, and incorporating prior information on the performance of the tests obtained from the literature, was used to estimate the tests Se and Sp. The accuracy of the combined (in parallel) application of both tests was also estimated. The Se of the PCR (82.9%) was higher than the Se of the bacteriological culture (79.9%), whereas the Sp of both tests was similar (88.5 and 89.0%, respectively). Furthermore, when both techniques were assessed in parallel, the Se of the diagnostic system increased substantially (Se = 96.6%) with a moderate Sp loss (Sp = 78.8%; PPV = 92.8%; NPV = 89%). Results suggest that the PCR, or the combined application of bacteriological culture and PCR, may serve as an accurate diagnostic tool to confirm bTB in swine samples. Results here will help the design and implementation of effective surveillance strategies for the disease in swine of Argentina and other settings in which the disease is prevalent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number204
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the UBACyT Project: 20020130100082 (2014–2017) from the University of Buenos Aires.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 Barandiaran, Pérez Aguirreburualde, Marfil, Martínez Vivot, Aznar, Zumárraga and Perez.


  • Bacteriology culture
  • Bayesian modeling
  • Diagnosis
  • PCR
  • Swine
  • Tuberculosis


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