Recombinant listeriolysin O and internalin A were used as antigens in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the specific detection of anti-Listeria monocytogenes antibodies in cattle. The results showed sensitivities and specificities of 82 and 92%, respectively, for the listeriolysin O ELISA, and 100 and 90%, respectively, for the internalin A ELISA, respectively. The test may be useful for the confirmation of listeria-related abortions and mastitis but does not seem to be indicated for use in the diagnosis of listeria-related encephalitis in cattle. A representative sample of 1,652 serum samples from the healthy dairy cattle population in Switzerland was tested by both ELISAs. The results showed that 11% of the healthy dairy cows in Switzerland simultaneously presented antibodies toward listeriolysin O and internalin A, and 48% of the farms had one or several animals simultaneously positive by assays with both antigens. Multivariable analysis at the farm level confirmed that feeding of silage represents a significant risk factor for a positive listeria serology. Detailed analysis identified corn silage but not grass silage as the major factor in this association. Cattle breed and hygiene on the farm were also identified as significant factors associated with the serological status of farms. In conclusion, the results of the study show that internalin A is a promising new antigen for use in listeria serology and that specific anti-L. monocytogenes antibodies are found in a significant proportion of healthy dairy cows in Switzerland
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