Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA.
The use of a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay to screen bulk milk tank samples for bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) has proven to be a sensitive and economical means to evaluate the lactating animals in a herd. The assay is capable of detecting the presence of a single persistently infected animal within a group of several hundred cows. Over a 3-year period, 144 samples from 97 farms were tested for BVDV using an RT-PCR assay in conjunction with a classical virus isolation (VI) procedure to measure the relative effectiveness of the techniques. Virus could be detected with both methods when the milk from a single persistently infected animal was diluted 1:600 with the milk from a herd of BVDV-negative animals. Based on individual farms, there was an overall prevalence of 12.4% BVDV infection, and the correlation between the 2 assays was 95.9%. In terms of sensitivity, specificity, and turnaround time, RT-PCR was superior to VI. However, of the 17 samples that were VI positive, 4 were RT-PCR negative. RT-PCR may not detect all naturally occurring BVDV isolates because they may contain minor sequence variations in the primer regions. VI and RT-PCR are both suitable for detection of BVDV in bulk milk samples when used independently, but to increase the probability of successful detection and to provide cross-checks against assay contamination, it is desirable to utilize both methods in parallel.
Renshaw RW, Ray R, Dubovi EJ: J Vet Diagn Invest 12: 184-186, 2000.