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Bulk milk ELISA and the diagnosis of parasite infections in dairy herds: a review

Mary Sekiya, Annetta Zintl and Michael L Doherty*

Author Affiliations

UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2013, 66:14  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-66-14

Published: 25 July 2013


The bulk milk enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA) is a rapid and inexpensive method of assessing herd exposure to pathogens that is increasingly being used for the diagnosis of parasite infections in dairy herds. In this paper, with the dairy herd health veterinarian in mind, we review the principles of the assay and the recent literature on the potential role of bulk milk ELISA for the diagnosis of ostertagiosis, fasciolosis, parasitic bronchitis due to cattle lung worm and neosporosis. It is generally accepted that assay results reflect exposure to the parasite rather than the presence of active infection. Bulk milk ELISA can be a useful tool for the veterinary practitioner as a component of a herd health monitoring programme or in the context of a herd health investigation. It can also play a role in regional or national surveillance programmes. However, the results need to be interpreted within the context of the herd-specific health management, the milk production pattern and the parasite life cycle.

Bulk milk ELISA; Dairy herds; Parasite infections; Ostertagia; Fasciola; Dictyocaulus; Neospora