Study: African Horse Sickness Test Reproducible According to Stringent OIE Standards

Researchers showed that the VP7 blocking ELISA test is highly reliable and works in exactly the same way every time its used, an important factor African horse sickness control and monitoring.
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African horse sickness
The World Organisation for Animal Health hopes to help to stop the spread of the African horse sickness, a deadly disease of horses, donkeys, and mules. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Matthew Robin

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) hopes to help to stop the spread of the African horse sickness (AHS), a deadly disease of horses, donkeys, and mules. It is an OIE-listed disease and is one of the six animal diseases that the OIE includes in its procedure for official recognition of a country’s disease‐free or risk status.

Spread by biting midges, AHS has a mortality rate of up to 90%. As such, containing it from further spread is essential. A key element in determining if AHS virus has been or is circulating in an equine population is blood testing; this helps veterinarians and reseaarchers ascertain which horses—and which countries—have been exposed to the virus. The blood test used must meet extremely high standards for sensitivity and specificity, and it must be implemented and results interpreted stringently and verified in a rigorous, multiple step process, said Javier Castillo-Olivares, LV, MSc, PhD, MRCVS, a vaccinology research scientist in the University of Cambridge Department of Veterinary Medicine, and visiting reader in vaccinology in the University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences, in Guildford, both in the U.K.

Castillo-Olivares led an international consortium of laboratories with the aim of validating an AHS ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) blood test in a study supported by the International Horse Sports Confederation, which is engaged in a public-private partnership with the OIE

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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