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IAH-industry collaboration launches bluetongue test kit

Visit Laboratoire Service International website

17 August 2009

BBSRC institute, the Institute for Animal Health has been collaborating with Laboratoire Service International (LSI) – a company specializing in the detection of pathogens of importance to animal health. Together these partners have seen through the development and commercialization of novel real-time RT-PCR-based molecular assays for the identification and typing of bluetongue viruses. The ‘TaqVet BTV European Typing Kit’ allows detection of BTV 1,2,6,8, 9, 11 and 16 (types that are in Europe), fulfilling a growing demand for fast and reliable laboratory tests to identify and differentiate BTV types, helping to monitor and contain existing and future outbreaks. The kit is now available.

The TaqVet BTV RT-PCR kit was developed from research conducted by the Arbovirology Molecular Research Group at the Pirbright Laboratory of the IAH, which is an institute of the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

“This is the first time that a single molecular assay kit has been available that will positively identify and distinguish seven of the European BTV types. The real-time technology used can be used on blood samples making it much faster and more reliable than conventional serological typing methods, generating results in a matter of hours rather than weeks. Personally I regard this form of molecular assay as the current ‘standard’ for initial typing of the bluetongue virus in either blood or tissue culture samples.” said Prof. Peter Mertens Head of the Arbovirus Research Group at IAH.

Bluetongue is an insect-borne viral disease, caused by bluetongue virus (BTV), which can infect most ruminants, and even some species of large carnivore (after eating infected meat). However bluetongue disease mainly affects cattle, some species of deer, and particularly sheep, which exhibit the highest morbidity and mortality rates, in some cases reaching over 70%. Since 1998, the disease has been rapidly spreading in Europe, with outbreaks in most European countries. There are now 25 known serotypes of the bluetongue virus, and each currently requires separate vaccination to achieve protection. The emergence of multiple strains of the virus in Europe belonging to 9 different BTV types means that it is now very important to be able to identify as rapidly as possible which type is causing a disease outbreak.


Notes to editors

Bluetongue is a haemorrhagic viral disease, affecting sheep, cattle and other ruminants. The disease spreads mainly via adult female Culicoides (biting midges), which serve as ‘vectors’ for the 25 known serotypes of bluetongue virus that have so far been identified. Following an incubation period of 5 to 20 days, infected animals (particularly sheep) can exhibit clinical signs that include fever, excessive loss of weight, swelling of the head and neck, eyelids and ears, lameness and an unwillingness to stand, abortion, breathing difficulties and even death. The mucosal surfaces of the mouth become inflamed and ulcerated. The swellings can result in insufficient oxygen supply to the affected tissues, particularly the tongue which can develop a characteristic blue or purple colour, giving the disease its name. The mortality rate depends on many factors including the animal’s species, breed, age, immune and health status, and the strain of the virus. There is no accepted treatment for bluetongue, although vaccination with the correct serotype, if applied in time, can provide very effective protection for the individual animal, and can prevent further spread of the virus. Since 1998 the distribution of BTV has changed significantly with multiple serotypes of the virus spreading across Europe and into the South-eastern United states. These events have been linked to climate change and its effect on the insect vectors involved in the transmission of these viruses.

About IAH

The IAH delivers high quality fundamental, strategic and applied science focussed on infectious diseases of farm animals. This knowledge is used to advance veterinary science, and to enhance the sustainability of livestock farming. In addition to research output the IAH provides diagnostic services for a number of diseases and gives expert advice to the UK government and international agencies. IAH is the UK and European Community Reference Laboratory for bluetongue, and also for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

About LSI

LSI, Laboratoire Service International, located 6 Allée des Ecureuils, Le Bois Dieu, 69380 LISSIEU, near to Lyon in France, is a French company leading in the detection of pathogens for animal health by both ELISA and Real-Time PCR (polymerase chain reaction). More than 25 people including DVM, PhD, and many specialists in molecular biology and biotechnology are employed by LSI, which is present, directly or by a network of agents and distributors, in more than 70 countries. LSI has developed and marketed more than 100 products and all of them are in ready and easy to use “kits”, available for all laboratories involved in the control of animal health. Since the beginning of LSI activity the first priority has been to give full technical support – in the company’s facilities or on site - to laboratories. Thanks to this permanent and friendly support LSI has introduced Real-time PCR in France and Europe in more than 60 veterinary laboratories. A team of 6 Real-time PCR specialists is fully dedicated to this activity and LSI is very happy to provide advice to the laboratories working on BTV control to allow them to use our TaqVet BTV typing kits in the best conditions.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

External contact

Dr Eric Sellal, LSI press office

tel: +33(0)472 548282

Mrs Lise Grewis, LSI press office

tel: +33(0)472 548286

Dr Dave Cavanagh, IAH press office:

tel: 01635 577241
mob: 07789 941568


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299