New Bluetongue Test to Help India's Poor Improve Livestock Productivity

INDIA - Researchers at the UK's Pirbright Institute have developed field tests for Indian strains of bluetongue virus (BTV) that are reliable, rapid and simple to use.
calendar icon 1 September 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

Bluetongue is a viral disease transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides) that infects cattle, goats, sheep and wild animals such as deer, although sheep tend to be the most severely affected. In India, BTV impacts directly on subsistence level sheep farmers in southern states and is a key limiting factor in development.

There are currently 27 different types of bluetongue virus, or serotypes. In India, several serotypes are circulating, making vaccination against BTV especially difficult.

Tests that can accurately diagnose these different types of BTV have previously been confined to the laboratory, which causes inevitable delays in diagnosing which strains are circulating and causing disease. Scientists have therefore been keen to identify a diagnostic test that is both rapid and accurate.

Joint research by Professor Peter Mertens and his group at The Pirbright Institute and scientists from the LLR University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS), in India, has produced two new tests which are able to tell the difference between both the virus types that are currently circulating in India.

The technique used by the researchers; called loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), is a portable test which can be used in the field and is rapid and easy to use.

Dr Simon Carpenter, Head of the vector-borne disease programme at The Pirbright Institute said: "This test paves the way for accurate and effective targeting of vaccination that will play a significant role in helping improve livestock productivity for some of the poorest people in India."

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