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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2007 Jan;19(1):69-72.

Development of a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay for rapid diagnosis of neuropathogenic strains of equine herpesvirus-1.

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  • 1M.H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0099, USA.


This communication reports the development and performance assessment of a rapid diagnostic test for identifying horses actively infected with the neurovirulent pathotype of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). The test is a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay that uses EHV-1 pathotype-specific TaqMan(R) reporter probes for discrimination between neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic strains of EHV-1 in equine blood or nasal swabs. The diagnostic performance of the new technique was evaluated by testing specimens collected from 234 horses involved in recent outbreaks of EHV-1 myeloencephalopathy at three separate thoroughbred racetracks and one large riding/boarding stable. Side-by-side comparison of the EHV-1 pathotyping results yielded by the new single-step, PCR-based allelic discrimination technique (24-hour turn-around-time) with those generated by a multi-step, conventional nested PCR followed by nucleotide sequencing of the amplified DNA (4-day turn-around-time) revealed complete agreement between the 2 test methods. The ability to rapidly identify horses infected with neuropathogenic strains of EHV-1 using a single-step, PCR-based method has significant implications for future diagnostic evaluation of suspect animals.

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