Concept

Paratuberculosis

Summary
Paratuberculosis is a contagious, chronic and sometimes fatal infection that primarily affects the small intestine of ruminants. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis. Infections normally affect ruminants (mammals that have four compartments of their stomachs, of which the rumen is one), but have also been seen in a variety of nonruminant species, including rabbits, foxes, and birds. Horses, dogs, and nonhuman primates have been infected experimentally. Paratuberculosis is found worldwide, with some states in Australia (where it is usually called bovine Johne's disease or BJD) being the only areas proven to be free of the disease. At least in Canada, the signs of BJD usually start when cattle are four to seven years of age, and then usually only are diagnosed in one animal at a time. Cattle "with signs of Johne’s disease shed billions of bacteria through their manure and serve as a major source of infection for future calves." Some sources define "paratuberculosis" by the lack of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, rather than the presence of any specific infectious agent, leaving ambiguous the appropriateness of the term to describe Buruli ulcer or Lady Windermere syndrome. The disease, discovered by Heinrich A. Johne, a German bacteriologist and veterinarian, in 1905, is caused by a bacterium named Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, an acid-fast bacillus, often abbreviated MAP. MAP is akin to, but distinct from, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the main cause of tuberculosis in humans, and Mycobacterium bovis, the main cause of tuberculosis in cattle and occasionally also in humans. MAP is 99% genetically related to Mycobacterium avium, but has different phenotypic characteristics, such as: slower growth requires the addition of an iron transport chemical known as mycobactin when grown in vitro forms a rough colony when grown on a solid agar medium Infects mammals instead of birds Also, the environmental distribution of MAP is markedly different from that of M.
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