Mon, 26 Mar 2018
Offering Trichomoniasis (Trich) PCR testing for cattle has business booming at the Idaho State Animal Health Laboratory.
"About 10 years ago, we really started to put more energy into developing new PCR assays, and one of the first ones was an assay for Trich foetus," said Dan Salmi, Idaho State Animal Health Laboratory Bureau Chief.
Initially, it was just a confirmation test and veterinarians were reading the Trich pouches. They would send in the pouch samples, and Salmi's diagnosticians would run an "old-fashion" PCR with gel assays. Most often, the samples weren't positive for T. foetus which was good news for the cattle producers because it meant the animals didn't have to be culled.
"Shortly after that when the commercial real-time PCR kit became available, we started offering real-time PCR for all of our Trich samples and it's become very popular," he said. "Initially, we were doing a couple hundred samples per year, and I think this last year we probably did 15,000 Trich PCR samples. Business is really booming."
To keep up with of demand, Salmi created a molecular core group laboratory, whose focus is developing new PCR assays and completing all the PCR Trich diagnostic work in the lab.
"To handle this demand, we not only had to add additional staff, but we also had to purchase some new instrumentation to handle the workflow," he said. "We purchased a robotic extraction system and also acquired a 7,500 PCR system which really increased our throughput on samples."
The older culture technique also required producers to take three culture samples from the bull one week apart so that test alone takes three or four weeks versus a Trich PCR where a producer can submit a single sample and get the results back in a day or two.
"We have very fast turnaround time of maybe one day, maybe two days. The veterinarians really appreciate that," he said. "Also, I just think our prices are very competitive."
PCR offers a proactive, efficient way for veterinarians and producers to monitor their herds for Trich.