New PCR Assay Reduces EHV-1 Testing Costs

Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) infections are common in horses throughout the world and cause significant economic losses to the equine industry through respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal death, and myeloencephalopathy (the neurologic form). 

Virus isolation from a nasal swab or blood is the "gold standard" for diagnosing EHV-1 shedding (or viremia) horses, but this method can take several weeks to complete.

Because a gel-based PCR assay does not provide quantitative data, does not use an internal control, and is laborious, the microbiology laboratory at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has implemented and validated a new real-time PCR assay for diagnosing EHV-1. This new test is slightly faster, yields quantitative data that provides a cycle of threshold values, has equal or greater sensitivity and specificity than gel-based PCR, and has an internal control that shows the presence (or absence) of PCR inhibitors in a particular specimen. In addition, this new test has high throughput capability.

Price: The fee for the new real-time PCR test for EHV-1 is $35 per animal (reduced from $55).

Specimen: Please continue to provide a pair of specimens from each animal tested. The desired ante mortem specimens are nasal swabs/washes and 10 ml of anti-coagulated (EDTA) blood. 

Turn around time: Within 24 to 48 hours.

Erdal Erol, DVM, PhD, head of diagnostic microbiology at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, provided this information.

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