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J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Oct;42(10):4453-61.

Detection of U.S., Lelystad, and European-like porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viruses and relative quantitation in boar semen and serum samples by real-time PCR.

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Department of Veterinary Science, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57007-1396, USA.


Transmission of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) via boar semen has been documented. Since semen is widely disseminated for artificial insemination and the virus can cause significant health and economic consequences, it is essential to have well-validated, rapid diagnostic techniques to detect and quantitate the virus for diagnostic and research purposes. Previously, boar semen was tested by a nested PCR (nPCR) assay which was compared to the "gold standard" swine bioassay. A correlation of 94% was observed, indicating that, most of the time, PCR detected infectious virus. Subsequently, a real-time PCR targeting the 3' untranslated region of the PRRSV genome was compared with nPCR by testing 413 serum and semen samples from PRRSV-inoculated and control boars. There was 95% agreement between the results of the two tests, with the majority of samples with discordant results containing virus at the lower range of detection by the assays. The virus in all samples was quantitated by using a standard curve obtained by serial dilution of an in vitro transcript. By using the in vitro transcript, the lower limit of sensitivity was observed to be approximately 33 copies/ml. Reactivity with a panel of more than 100 PRRSV isolates from various geographical regions in the United States was also documented. No reactivity with nine nonrelated swine viruses was noted. A real-time PCR was also developed for the detection of the European Lelystad virus and the European-like PRRSV now found in the United States. In six of six PRRSV-inoculated boars, peak levels of viremia occurred at 5 days postinoculation (DPI) and were most consistently detectable throughout 22 DPI. In five of six boars, PRRSV was shed in semen for 0 to 2 days during the first 10 DPI; however, one of six boars shed the virus in semen through 32 DPI. Therefore, in general, the concentration and duration of PRRSV shedding in semen did not correlate with the quantity or duration of virus in serum. These differences warrant further studies into the factors that prevent viral replication in the reproductive tract.

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