Monday, August 13, 2007

PCR in use

In the outbreak of FMD in Surrey last week, the first mention was made of the in-field use of rt-PCR.

This is not laboratory based technology but 'soldier' proof, in the field, fast diagnostics, yielding results in minutes not days. We have been 'banging on' about it for several years now, as our commentators have pointed out. And we will continue to do so until on-site rapid diagnosis, (rt- PCR) such as that given such successful trials by Warwick last year and those developed in the UK with taxpayer's money by Enigma diagnostics, are ratcheted up governmental agendas.

This technology, already in use elsewhere in the world for animal diseases and now widely used in UK hospitals, will allow any necessary euthanasia to be both humane and absolutely targeted. It could also defuse the whole, horrible, polarised "debate" between those who want to save their cattle and those who want to protect badgers. Both sides speak from the best of motives. But we have the technology to deal with bovine TB without a mass cull of either species.

Anyway, it looks like Pirbright are taking an opportunity to 'validate' their magic box. Defra say in their FMD epidemiological report:

"The third premises had one RT-PCR postive in 22 cattle, but there was no evidence of clinical disease"

See page 2 of the pdf file on the Defra website.

Other snippets on the use of this amazing technology, include its ability to identify (FMD) disease in milk, days ahead of clinical symptoms. One of its main proponents Roger Breeze, predicts its widespread use within a year.

Much more on PCR technology can be found on warmwell

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