New Tests Quickly Diagnose Bluetongue, Related Diseases
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Kathryn Barry Stelljes, (510) 559-6069, email@example.com
July 29, 1999
New laboratory tests will allow scientists, regulators and livestock
producers to quickly identify animals with bluetongue or epizootic
hemorrhagic disease (EHD).
ARS scientists in Laramie, Wyo., have developed the first single genetic
test that distinguishes all five types of the virus that causes bluetongue
in the U.S. They've also developed rapid tests that distinguish bluetongue
Bluetongue, so named because it can cause a loss of oxygen and a blue tinge
to the tongue, affects sheep, goats, deer, elk and antelope. Cattle can
carry the virus, usually without becoming ill. Worldwide, there are 24
strains of bluetongue virus. Countries without bluetongue strictly regulate
import and export of livestock and related products, costing U.S. producers
about $125 million annually.
Previous tests were not always definitive, requiring additional testing. The
new test, developed by ARS microbiologist William C. Wilson, reduces the
time it takes to identify the virus type from several days to a single day.
All official bluetongue testing in the U.S. is performed at the USDA's
National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and the lab has
incorporated Wilson's test into its procedures.
Wilson and ARS microbiologist James O. Mecham also developed tests that
identify the two types of EHD present in the U.S. and distinguish them from
bluetongue viruses. Both scientists work at ARS' Arthropod-Borne Animal
Diseases Research Laboratory in Laramie.
EHD can cause a bluetongue-like disease in cattle and is often fatal to
white-tailed deer. Correctly identifying which virus an animal harbors is
important for trade purposes. There is no cure for either bluetongue or EHD.
ARS is USDA's chief scientific research agency. A detailed story on the
research appears in the agency's July Agricultural Research magazine and on
the Internet at:
Scientific contacts: William C. Wilson or James O. Mecham, ARS
Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Laboratory, Laramie, Wyo., phone
(307) 766-3600, fax (307) 766-3500, firstname.lastname@example.org (Wilson)
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