Latent class analysis of real time qPCR and bacteriological culturing for the diagnosis of Streptococcus agalactiae in cow composite milk samples

Ingrid H. Holmøy*, Nils Toft, Hannah J. Jørgensen, Tormod Mørk, Liv Sølverød, Ane Nødtvedt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Streptococcus agalactiae (S. agalactiae) has re-emerged as a mastitis pathogen among Norwegian dairy cows. The Norwegian cattle health services recommend that infected herds implement measures to eradicate S. agalactiae, this includes a screening of milk samples from all lactating cows. The performance of the qPCR-test currently in use for this purpose has not been evaluated under field conditions. The objective of this study was to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of the real-time qPCR assay in use in Norway (Mastitis 4 qPCR, DNA Diagnostics A/S, Risskov, Denmark) and compare it to conventional bacteriological culturing for detection of S. agalactiae in milk samples. Because none of these tests are considered a perfect reference test, the evaluation was performed using latent class models in a Bayesian analysis. Aseptically collected cow-composite milk samples from 578 cows belonging to 6 herds were cultured and tested by qPCR. While 37 (6.4%) samples were positive for S. agalactiae by bacteriological culture, 66 (11.4%) samples were positive by qPCR. The within-herd prevalence in the six herds, as estimated by the latent class models ranged from 7.7 to 50.8%. At the recommended cut-off (cycle threshold 37), the sensitivity of the qPCR was significantly higher at 95.3 (95% posterior probability interval [PPI] [84.2; 99.6]) than that of bacteriological culture at 58.2 (95% PPI [43.8; 74.4]). However, bacterial culture had a higher specificity of 99.7 (95% PPI [98.5; 100.0]) compared to the qPCR at 98.5 (95% PPI [94.6; 99.9]). The median estimated negative predictive values of qPCR was consistently higher than those of the BC at all estimated prevalences, and the superiority of the qPCR increased with increasing within-herd prevalence. The median positive predictive values of BC was in general higher than the estimates for the qPCR, however, at the highest prevalence the predictive ability of both tests were similar.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
    Pages (from-to)119-123
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Dairy cow
    • S. agalactiae
    • Bayesian latent class models
    • qPCR-analysis
    • Bacteriological culturing
    • Sensitivity
    • Specificity


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