Comparison of pre-emptive and reactive strategies to control an incursion of bluetongue virus serotype 1 to Great Britain by vaccination.
The control of bluetongue virus (BTV) in Central-Western Europe is greatly complicated by the coexistence of several BTV serotypes. Rapid, sensitive and specific assays are therefore needed to correctly identify the currently circulating BTV serotypes in field samples. In the present study, four serotype-specific real-time RT-PCR assays (RT-qPCR) are described for the detection of the BTV-1, BTV-6, BTV-8 and BTV-11 serotypes. The analytical sensitivity of the BTV-1/S2, BTV-6/S2, BTV-8/S2 and BTV-11/S2 serotype-specific RT-qPCR assays is comparable to the earlier described serogroup-specific pan-BTV/S5 RT-qPCR assay. In silico and in vitro analyses indicated that none of the assays cross-react with viruses which are symptomatically or genetically related to BTV and only detect the intended BTV serotypes. All assays exhibited a linear range of at least 0.05-3.80 log(10) TCID(50) ml(-1) and a PCR-efficiency approaching the ideal amplification factor of two per PCR cycle. Both intra- and inter-run variations were found to be low with a total coefficient of variation of 1-2% for clear positive samples and <10% for very weak positive samples. Finally, the performance of the described assays was compared with commercially available kits for the detection of BTV-1, BTV-6 and BTV-8. Three in-house assays gave exactly the same diagnostic result (positive/negative) as the commercial assays and can thus be used interchangeably. Together with the earlier described serogroup-specific pan-BTV/S5, the serotype-specific RT-qPCR assays form a flexible and properly validated set of tools to detect and differentiate the BTV serotypes currently circulating in Central-Western Europe.