Association between Dictyocaulus viviparus bulk tank milk antibody levels and farmer-reported lungworm outbreaks
The lungworm Dictyocaulus viviparus can have a major impact on bovine health and productivity. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA), based on a recombinant Major Sperm Protein (MSP), have been developed to detect D. viviparus-specific antibodies in bulk tank milk (BTM). The objectives of this study are to assess the association between BTM optical density ratio's (ODR) and farmer-reported lungworm outbreaks based on the clinical sign "coughing" throughout the grazing season and to compare the sensitivity and specificity of two ELISAs under field conditions. The Hannover MSP-ELISA and the prototype Svanova MSP-ELISA were used for the detection of D. viviparus antibodies in BTM samples on 717 dairy farms during the 2018 grazing season. Assuming all herds to be truly lungworm infected, the results show that the Svanova ELISA had a lower sensitivity (40-65%) and specificity (75-90%) for the detection of D. viviparus infections in BTM compared to the Hannover ELISA, which had a sensitivity of 42% and 74% and specificity of 100% and 98% at a cut-off of 0.41 ODR and 0.25 ODR, respectively. Therefore, analyses of the associations between milk antibody levels and farmer-reported outbreaks during the 2018 and 2019 grazing season were assessed using the Hannover ELISA, on 717 and 634 farms, respectively. A positive association was found between a farmer-reported outbreak and having at least two consecutive positive BTM ODR's at a cut-off of 0.41 in 2018 (Odds Ratio (OR) = 5.5) and 2019 (OR = 2.8). Furthermore, there was a significant association between a farmer-reported outbreak and having a positive BTM ODR in August (OR 2018 = 4.4; OR 2019 = 2.8) and October (OR 2018 = 3.7; OR 2019 = 1.8). On the farms with a farmer-reported outbreak and positive BTM samples, over half (2018 = 77%; 2019 = 57%) of the positive ODR's were situated before the outbreak and 47% (2018) and 42% (2019) within 12 weeks before the outbreak. In conclusion, there is a positive association between farmer-reported outbreaks and the occurrence of a positive BTM sample at the cut-off of 0.41 ODR using the Hannover ELISA.