Sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction for detection of bovine viral diarrhea virus in pooled serum samples and use of pooled polymerase chain reaction to determine prevalence of bovine viral diarrhea virus in auction market cattle

Brief Communications

Correspondence: 1Corresponding Author: Michael W. Sanderson, 111B Mosier Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506-5701, e-mail:

Two reverse transcription-nested polymerase chain reaction tests, 1 quantitative (qRT-nPCR) and 1 standard (RT-nPCR), were evaluated to assess sensitivity for detection of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) of a single positive serum sample in a pool of 30. The RT-nPCR and qRT-nPCR each detected 95 of 100 known positives. The RT-nPCR was used to estimate the prevalence of BVDV in adult beef cows. Serum samples were obtained from the US Department of Agriculture brucellosis testing laboratories in 3 Midwestern states. Samples originated from auction markets and private treaty sales throughout the 3 states. A total of 2,990 serum samples were collected and randomly pooled into 100 pools for testing. Two of the 100 pools of field samples were positive, and each positive pool had a single positive individual sample upon confirmation. The estimate of BVDV prevalence in adult cows in this study was 0.07%. This study estimates the diagnostic sensitivity of RT-nPCR for BVDV and confirms that it is a useful diagnostic tool for pools of 30 serum samples and that prevalence of BVDV in adult cattle from auction markets is low.

Key Words: Bovine viral diarrhea virus • BVDV • pooled polymerase chain reaction • prevalence • sensitivity


Smith RL, Sanderson MW1, Walz PH, Givens MD: J Vet Diagn Invest 20: 75-78, 2008.