New test for turkey viruses is quicker and cheaper

26-05-2006 | |

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 sensitivity.

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).

The 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 swabs.

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 chickens.