USDA's TB Serum Bank Still in Need of Samples

The Tuberculosis (TB) Serum Bank includes samples collected from cervids and, thanks to your efforts, 320 additional cervid samples were submitted in 2009. Previously submitted samples have been extremely valuable to diagnostic companies developing tests to detect TB in both bovines and cervids. However, many of the samples previously submitted to the serum bank contained small volumes of 1-3 milliliters, which are not adequate for the extensive testing required to validate a new test. In addition, repeated testing of the same serum is needed to evaluate newly developed tests. It is hoped that collections can be made from a total of 1600 TB negative white-tailed deer and as many naturally TB infected deer as possible. More samples are needed and the TB testing season is nearly here!

Any newly developed test that is licensed by USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics does not immediately become an official TB test. Additional laboratory and field evaluation will need to occur after a test is licensed to verify the ability of the test to meet the specific needs of the TB eradication program. Only after licensure and a successful evaluation process, will a newly developed test be approved as an official test in the TB eradication program.

A significant challenge to evaluating new TB tests for use in captive cervids is obtaining samples from naturally infected animals. The TB Serum Bank received samples from TB-infected captive cervid herds detected in 2009; however, aside from these events, detection of naturally TB-infected captive cervids is infrequent. APHIS and TB scientists are discussing the protocol for approval of new tests for white-tailed deer and elk, given the limited availability of samples from infected animals.

Producers that are interested in having serum samples collected from their cervid herd should contact their state animal health officials or USDA-Veterinary Services' Area Veterinarian in Charge so they can coordinate the collections in each state. The TB Serum Bank at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa will provide blood collection supplies and shipping materials to veterinarians collecting the samples and cover shipping costs to submit the serum to the serum bank. Please consider the following when samples are being collected:

· Coordinate the blood collections with your state and federal animal health officials
· Collect blood at the time of routine TB testing
o Collect three 10ml red-topped or serum separator tubes
o Collect blood the day of tuberculin injection (not the day the test is read)
o Sample juvenile (test eligible) and adult animals
· Centrifuge the blood samples, and place the serum into new tubes. Please only submit serum to the TB Serum Bank.
· TB test charts need to be completely filled out with official identification, age, sex, breed, and testing results for each animal. Submit a completed copy of the test chart to the NVSL Serum Bank.

For questions or comments about the TB serum bank, please contact Dr. Jeffrey Nelson, TB Serum Bank Coordinator, at jeffrey.t.nelson@aphis.usda.gov or 515-337-7966 or Dr. Kathy Orloski, Epidemiologist, TB Program, at Kathy.a.orloski@aphis.usda.gov or 970-494-7221.