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US - 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 (PCR) test for Lawsonia (ileitis) using fecal samples.

According to Wayne Chittick, manager of the BIVI Health Management Center (HMC) located in Ames, Iowa, unlike traditional qualitative PCR assays which simply detect for the presence of Lawsonia, the new quantitative PCR test provides customers with bacterial concentration levels.

BIVI offers the quantitative PCR assay for the same cost and turn-around time as their traditional qualitative Lawsonia test.

“The underlying PCR test was developed by Life Technologies while the quantitative portion of the test was developed by the HMC. 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,” Mr Chittick explains.

“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.”

Kent Doolittle, Scientist III at the HMC, says the laboratory spent a lot of time perfecting the quantitative PCR 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 adds: “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.”

The BIVI Health Management Center is the US swine industry’s first private diagnostic laboratory International Standard ISO 17025 accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation since 2004. It offers 12 different diagnostic services for major swine diseases, including ileitis, mycoplasma pneumonia, salmonella, PRRS, circovirus and corona virus, from a variety of different samples.

Jessica Seate, DVM, technical manager for the enteric solutions portfolio for BIVI, says results from quantitative PCR assays provide veterinarians and producers with more specific information on the severity of disease presence within infected pigs and insights into the potential impact on production. “For ileitis, in particular, studies show a strong correlation between fecal bacterial load levels and clinical disease and impact on average daily gain and production,” she explains.

“The quantitative PCR test for Lawsonia, along with efficacious vaccines such as Enterisol® Ileitis, are part of the suite of tools we offer veterinarians and producers to better monitor disease status of their pigs and improve overall health and productivity of their herds.”