Evaluation of laboratory tests for confirming the diagnosis of encephalitic listeriosis in ruminants

Gayle C. Johnson, William H. Fales, Carol W. Maddox, Jose Antonio Ramos-Vara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retrospective analysis of 93 bovine, ovine, and caprine cases diagnosed as listerial encephalitis revealed positive bacterial isolations in only 63% of 59 cases in which bacterial culture was attempted. Only 42% of 41 attempted bovine brain cultures were successful, compared with 67% from 6 sheep brains and 92% from 12 goat brains. Gram stains and Listeria-specific immunohistochemistry were evaluated as tools for verifying the presence of bacteria or listerial antigens in 38 animals. Sixteen of 17 animals in this group with positive bacterial isolations were immunochemically positive for listerial antigens (including 5/6 cattle), but Gram stains detected only 9/17 positive animals (including 1/6 cattle). Antigen was also detected in 15 of 21 animals (including 5/9 cattle) with unsuccessful or unattempted bacterial isolations. Of all 38 animals, the histologic diagnosis could be verified in 82% by immunohistochemistry, compared to 47% verified by Gram stains. Immunohistochemical testing was especially beneficial in locating antigen in lesions with few bacteria or bacterial antigens and is a rapid method of confirming the diagnosis of encephalitic listeriosis where inappropriate material is submitted for bacterial isolation or in culture-negative cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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