Rapid and precise virus detection procedures are an important component of any epizootiological study. An automated one tube reverse transcriptase and nested primer polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) followed by nucleotide sequencing of the cDNA product, was used for the rapid detection and identification of louping ill (LI) virus in field caught Ixodes ricinus and compared with a classical isolation method i.e. infectivity in cell culture. The results establish the genetic identity of LI virus on the Lochindorb Estate. There was a high correlation between the results obtained by RT-PCR and infectivity assays. RT-PCR and sequencing proved to be a rapid and accurate system for identifying LI virus in field specimens. Development of this system should improve the capacity to undertake detailed epizootiological studies of LI virus.
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