Evaluation of the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction/probe test of serum samples and immunohistochemistry of skin sections for detection of acute bovine viral diarrhea infections

Evaluation Studies

Virus and Prion Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, IA 50010, USA.

Bovine viral diarrhea viruses (BVDV) cause both acute and persistent infections. While diagnostic tests have been designed to detect animals persistently infected (PI) with BVDV, the reliability of these tests in detecting acute BVDV infections is not known. It is also possible that acute BVDV infections may be confused with persistent infections in surveys for PI animals. In this study, 2 tests presently in use in diagnostic laboratories to test for PI animals, polymerase chain reaction amplification followed by probe hybridization (RT-PCR/probe) of serum samples and immunohistochemical detection of viral antigen in skin biopsies (IHC), were evaluated for their ability to detect acute BVDV infections. Sixteen colostrum-deprived, BVDV-free, and BVDV-antibody-free calves were infected with 6 different BVDV strains. Clinical signs, seroconversion, and virus isolation indicated that inoculated animals did replicate virus. Virus could be detected in 19% (3/16) of acutely infected animals by the RT-PCR/probe technique. No acutely infected animals were positive by IHC.


Ridpath JF, Hietala SK, Sorden S, Neill JD: J Vet Diagn Invest 14: 303-307, 2002.