First commercial qPCR test for lawsonia developed

New diagnostic test uses fecal samples to accurately determine Lawsonia levels.

The Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI) Health Management Center has developed and will offer, starting July 1, the industry's first commercially available quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test for Lawsonia (ileitis) using fecal samples.

According to Wayne Chittick, manager of the BIVI Health Management Center located in Ames, Iowa, unlike traditional qualitative PCR assays that simply detect for the presence of Lawsonia, the new qPCR test provides customers with bacterial concentration levels. BIVI said it will offer the qPCR assay for the same cost and turn-around time as its traditional qualitative Lawsonia test.

"The underlying PCR test was developed by Life Technologies while the quantitative portion of the test was developed by the (BIVI Health Management Center). We modified the test based on our long experience in swine disease diagnostic testing and from leveraging what we learned developing an improved quantitative PCR test for porcine circovirus," Chittick explained.

"The quantitative test is especially useful to veterinarians conducting farm research programs or who want specific data on bacterial load levels from infected pigs. Eventually, this test will replace our existing qualitative PCR test using fecal samples," he added.

Kent Doolittle, scientist III at the center, said the laboratory spent a lot of time perfecting the qPCR process because of the inhibitors such as feed ingredients and bacterial constituents inherent in fecal material that can impact test results.

"We are now able to correct for fecal sample size and adjust for PCR inhibition due to these other factors to provide highly accurate, reliable and repeatable bacterial concentration numbers for Lawsonia," Doolittle said.

He added, "In addition, we can run the quantitative diagnostics and provide the reports in about three working days, depending on the day of the week the samples are received, and at the same cost per sample as traditional qualitative PCR tests."

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