The efficacy of a rapid test for detecting PrPSc in central nervous system tissue was evaluated for the postmortem diagnosis of BSE at different times during the course of the disease. One hundred and six samples of brain, at the level of the medulla oblongata, and spinal cord, derived from the experimental study of the pathogenesis of BSE carried out in Great Britain between 1991 and 1995, were examined. PrPSc was detected in the samples from most of the exposed animals killed 32 months or more after they had been exposed to the agent, and before the onset of clinical signs which were first recorded at 35 months. Comparisons with the results of histology, fibril detection, PrP immunohistochemistry and mouse bioassay indicated that the rapid test is at least as sensitive as these conventional confirmatory diagnostic methods and its result can be obtained more quickly.
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