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UK, France Partner on Bluetongue Assay

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The UK's Biotechnology and Biological Resources Council said today that it has worked with the Institute for Animal Health and France's Laboratoire Service International to develop a PCR-based assay to identify viruses that cause bluetongue, a livestock disease.

Based on research conducted by the Arbovirology Molecular Research Group at the IAH's Pirbright Laboratory, the assay kit allows for the detection of bluetongue virus 1, 2,6, 8, 9, 11, and 16, which are types of BTV found in Europe.

"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," Peter Mertens, who heads the IAH's Arbovirus Research Group, said in a statement.

Transmitted by insects, bluetongue virus can infect sheep, cattle, and deer, as well some large carnivores that eat infected meat. In sheep, the virus can cause mortality rates as high as 70 percent. Each of the 25 known types of bluetongue virus requires separate vaccinations.