Brucellosis caused by infection with Brucella abortus is present in some elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) of the Greater Yellowstone Area (parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, USA). Since 1985, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has vaccinated elk on elk feedgrounds in northwestern Wyoming during the winter months using B. abortus strain 19 (strain 19). Analysis of this vaccination program is hampered by the inability of standard serologic tests to differentiate between strain 19 vaccinated elk and those exposed to field strain B. abortus. In 1993, a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) was licensed to serologically differentiate between strain 19 vaccinated cattle and cattle exposed to field strain B. abortus. Seven groups of elk sera representing various B. abortus exposure histories were used to validate the cELISA test for elk. The cELISA test differentiated strain 19 vaccinated elk from elk that were challenged with B. abortus strain 2308, a pathogenic laboratory strain. The specificity of the cELISA was 96.8% for elk vaccinated with strain 19 only and sampled between 6 mo and 2 yr post vaccination, or with no B. abortus exposure. The sensitivity of the cELISA was 100%. The cELISA test will be useful in evaluating sera collected from elk in vaccinated, brucellosis endemic herds in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
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