Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP)



Paratuberculosis is a chronic and incurable intestinal infection of ruminants.


Worldwide, with regions with intensive ruminant farming being particularly affected

Host animals

Domestic ruminants (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats), wild ruminants (e.g. deer), ruminants in zoos

Infection route

Infection occurs mainly as a young animal via pathogen-containing faeces, faeces-contaminated milk and teats as well as colostrum.

Incubation time

2 to 10 years


Clinical symptoms develop after an incubation period of many years in some of the infected animals and are manifested by insatiable diarrhoea with a preserved desire to eat. The faeces are foamy and interspersed with gas bubbles. Other symptoms are severe emaciation and a decrease in milk yield. In the small ruminant, emaciation is often the only symptom. The disease inevitably leads to the death of the affected animals.


Paratuberculosis is incurable


One vaccine is not licensed in Austria

Situation in Austria

In Austria, since April 2006, there has been a notification requirement for the clinical form of paratuberculosis in cattle, sheep and goats as well as wild ruminants kept in gates. The aim of this surveillance programme is to identify animals clinically affected by paratuberculosis and to remove them from the herds. Furthermore, after laboratory confirmation, targeted hygiene and management measures are taken to reduce the infection pressure in the affected herds.

In 2020, samples from 56 cattle from 48 farms, 64 goats from 6 farms and one sheep were sent for testing. In 16 cattle from 14 farms and 38 goats (4 farms), the clinical suspicion of infection with MAP was confirmed diagnostically.

Number of cattle or farms suspected of paratuberculosis and tested positive

Number of goats, sheep and creel deer suspected and tested positive for paratuberculosis and holdings

Technical information

Infection occurs predominantly in the first months of life. Young animals are the most susceptible; infection often occurs directly after birth via pathogen-containing faeces, faeces-contaminated milk and teats as well as colostrum.

MAP control is made considerably more difficult by various factors. While the laboratory diagnosis of an infection in clinically ill animals is usually not difficult, early stages of infection are often difficult to detect due to the long incubation period, the intermittent excretion of the pathogen and the relatively late seroconversion. However, since it is the clinically ill animals that are most important in the spread of MAP because of the high excretion of the pathogen, the surveillance and control programme is aimed primarily at the detection and eradication of animals clinically ill with paratuberculosis. If the actual existence of clinical paratuberculosis is detected and confirmed, additional targeted hygiene and management measures to reduce the infection pressure in the affected herds shall follow the culling of the affected animals.


Based on the clinic, only a tentative diagnosis can be made, which must be verified by further laboratory diagnostics.

The following laboratory diagnostic methods are used:

  • Pathogen detection: bacteriological culture test and PCR.
  • Detection of MAP-specific antibodies: ELISA

For the diagnostic clarification of clinical suspect cases, blood and faeces samples must be sent in by the official veterinarian. In the case of dead or killed animals, organ material (intestinal parts, lymph nodes) is to be sent in.


Institut für veterinärmedizinische Untersuchungen Linz

Last updated: 10.11.2022

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