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Diagnostic accuracy of PCR for Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus

F. I. Lewis, F. Brülisauer, C. Cousens, I. J. McKendrick, G. J. Gunn

A RELIABLE diagnostic test is needed to detect sheep infected with Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV), the aetiological agent of ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma. PCR testing is not used routinely due to reservations regarding its ability to diagnose the infection outside of a research environment. This field study estimated the accuracy of a JSRV PCR in Scottish sheep.

A representative sample of 125 Scottish sheep flocks were studied. Blood samples were collected from a random sample of approximatey 27 sheep from each flock. Blood samples were tested for the presence of JSRV proviral DNA using a hemi-nested PCR. Three replicate aliquots from each blood sample were tested, together with a set of three positive controls of varying known JSRV DNA concentration (one aliquot each) and four negative control samples (three replicate aliquots each). Replicate samples were used to increase the amount of data available for analysis using a novel statistical approach to estimate specificity and sensitivity in the absence of a gold standard reference test.

The median diagnostic specificity of the PCR was …

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