New test for turkey viruses is quicker and cheaper
US scientists at the Agricultural Research Service have developed a
new, highly sensitive diagnostic test to detect viruses associated with poult
enteritis complex (PEC).
This disease of young turkeys can cause diarrhoea, poor weight gain and, in
some cases, high mortality.
Current diagnostic methods for
PEC-associated viruses have limitations because of poor specificity and
The new test's format allows the detection of several
types of viruses at one time, using a molecular technique called real-time
reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR).
researchers inoculated turkey poults with each of the PEC-associated viruses and
later collected intestinal tissue samples and cloacal swabs from the
experimentally infected birds. The RRT-PCR test showed high sensitivity,
accurately detecting the target viruses in both the tissues and
The researchers found that cloacal samples - which are easier
than intestinal samples to collect and process - were just as suitable for
testing. Using cloacal samples will save time and money, and will also eliminate
the need to euthanise birds for sampling.
The PEC-test technology has
been provided to several laboratories for diagnostic use, and the research team
is now working on adapting the technique to diagnose related diseases in
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