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An indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed to identify elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) with Brucella abortus strain RB51 (RB51)-specific antibodies using a mouse monoclonal antibody specific for bovine IgG1. This test was relatively easy to perform, accurate, and easily reproducible; therefore it could be standardized for use between laboratories. In addition, we attempted to compensate for inherent variabilities encountered when comparing ELISA readings from multiple samples taken from many animals over time. Optical density (OD) readings for each sample were converted into a percent positivity value for analysis. A negative cutoff value was determined above which a sample was considered to have a significantly elevated anti-RB51 antibody level. Pre- and postvaccination sera from 64 6-8 mo old elk, divided into four groups (females subcutaneously inoculated with saline (control animals), females ballistically inoculated with RB51, females subcutaneously inoculated with RB51, and males subcutaneously inoculated with RB51) were used. All serum samples were collected between 27 April and 15 November 1995. Values for all saline controls were appropriately below the negative cutoff value. All subcutaneously and ballistically inoculated elk were serologically positive to RB51 for at least two sampling periods during the study. The difference in percent positivity values for the ballistically compared to the subcutaneously inoculated groups was not statistically significant at 8, 10, 14, or 18 wk postvaccination. This suggests that processing RB51 into lactose based pellets and ballistically inoculating elk with these pellets does not alter the detectable elk antibody response. Also, inoculated and control animals can be accurately identified with ELISA at 4-8 weeks postvaccination.

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Journal of Wildlife Diseases

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