AbstractThe present study was designed to investigate Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in dairy buffalo herds from six different geographical areas in Nineveh, Iraq. A total of 87 individual faecal samples from river buffaloes, representing 12 dairy herds, were investigated for detection of MAP using cultural, Ziehl‑Neelsen and MAP‑specific PCR‑based methods. Overall, MAP was detected at a higher frequency at herd‑level (4/12; 33%) compared to the total individual faecal samples (14/87; 16%) with a cell density ranging from 101 to 103 CFU g‑1. A significantly (p < 0.05) higher frequency (9/17; 53%) of MAP was observed in faecal samples collected from clinically diseased as compared to healthy (5/70; 7%) buffaloes selected for the study. However, no statistically significant difference (p ≥ 0.05) was observed in the frequency of MAP occurrence between clinical (9; 64%) and apparently healthy (5; 36%) cases. This report, which is the first MAP study based on data from Iraqi dairy buffalo herds suggests that MAP transmission is a significant health risk for grazing livestock. In conclusion, this study would help farm owners and regulatory authorities to realise the importance of developing and applying best farm management practices in order to prevent transmission of MAP to healthy animals and the environment. In addition, effective diagnostic tests should be taken into account when carrying out the screening tests.
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