Evaluation of an IgM‐specific ELISA for early detection of Bluetongue virus infections in domestic ruminants sera
Competitive‐ELISA (c‐ELISA) is the most widely used serological test for the detection of Bluetongue virus (BTV) viral protein 7 (VP7) antibodies (Ab). However, these BTV c‐ELISAs cannot to distinguish between IgG and IgM. IgM Ab are generated shortly after the primary immune response against an infectious agent, indicating a recent infection or exposure to antigens, such as after vaccination. Because the BTV genome or anti‐VP7 Ab can be detected in ruminant blood months after infection, BTV diagnostic tools cannot discriminate between recent and old infections. In this study, we evaluated an IgM‐capture ELISA prototype to detect ruminant anti‐BTV VP7 IgM on 1650 serum samples from cattle, sheep or goats. Animals were BTV‐naive, infected, or/and vaccinated with BTV‐1, ‐2, ‐4, ‐8, ‐9, ‐16 or ‐27, and we also included 30 sera from cattle infected with the Epizootic haemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) serotype 6. Results demonstrated that this ELISA kit is specific and can detect the presence of IgM with satisfactory diagnostic specificity and sensitivity from 1 to 5 weeks after BTV infection in domestic ruminants (for goats and cattle; for sheep, at least up to 24 days). The peak of anti‐VP7 IgM was reached when the level of infectious viruses and BTV RNA in blood were the highest. The possibility of detecting BTV‐RNA in IgM positive sera allows the amplification and sequencing of the partial RNA segment 2 (encoding the serotype specific to VP2) to determine the causative BTV serotype/strain. Therefore, BTV IgM ELISA can detect the introduction of BTV (or EHDV) in an area with BTV seropositive domestic animals regardless of their serological BTV status. This approach may also be of particular interest for retrospective epidemiological studies on frozen serum samples.
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