Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map) was monitored by quantitative PCR over a range of temporal and spatial scales in the River Tywi catchment. This study shows the persistence of Map over a 10-year period with little change, which correlates with the recognised levels of Johne's disease in British herds over that period (aim 1). Map was quantified within the river at up to 108 cell equivalents L-1 and was shown to be consistently present when monitored over finer timescales (aim 4). Small wastewater treatment plants where the ingress of human-associated Map might be expected had no significant effect (aim 2). Map was found for the first time to be located in natural river foams providing another route for spread via aerosols (aim 5). This study provides evidence for the environmental continuum of Map from the grazing infected animal via rain driven runoff through field drains and streams into main rivers; with detection at a high frequency throughout the year. Should Map need to be monitored in the future, we recommend that weekly or monthly sampling from a fixed location on a river will capture an adequate representation of the flow dynamics of Map in a catchment (aim 3). The human exposure to Map during this process and its impact on human health remains unquantified.
- Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis;
- freshwater environment
- Crohn’s disease