Detection of equine infectious anemia viral RNA in plasma samples from recently infected and long-term inapparent carrier animals by PCR

J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Jun;34(6):1481-7. doi: 10.1128/jcm.34.6.1481-1487.1996.


Control of equine infectious anemia (EIA) is currently based on detection of anti-EIA virus (EIAV) antibodies. However, serologic diagnostic methods may give false-negative results in infected horses that fail to respond adequately or are in the early stages of infection. We developed a reverse transcriptase nested PCR (RT-nPCR) assay for the detection of viral gag gene sequences in plasma from EIAV-infected horses. The ability of RT-nPCR to detect field strains of EIAV was investigated by assaying plasma samples from 71 horses stabled on EIA quarantine ranches. Positive PCR signals were detected in 63 of 63 horses with EIAV antibody test-positive histories on approved serologic tests, demonstrating that RT-nPCR was probably directed against highly conserved sequences in the viral genome. The RT-nPCR assay, agar gel immunodiffusion test, and conventional virus isolation were compared for detection of early infection in 12 experimentally infected ponies. Viral gag sequences were detected in all 12 animals by 3 days postinfection (p.i.) by RT-nPCR, whereas virus could not be routinely isolated on cell culture until 9 to 13 days p.i. and EIAV antibodies could not be detected by agar gel immunodiffusion until 20 to 23 days p.i. Finally, specificity of the RT-nPCR assay was examined by testing plasma from 43 horses with serologic test-negative histories and no known contact with EIAV-infected animals. Viral gag sequences were not detectable in this control group. These data suggest that the EIAV RT-nPCR assay effectively detects EIAV and is more sensitive than current standard methods for detection of early stages of infection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier State / diagnosis
  • Carrier State / veterinary*
  • Carrier State / virology
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Equine Infectious Anemia / diagnosis
  • Equine Infectious Anemia / virology*
  • Horses
  • Immunodiffusion / methods
  • Immunodiffusion / statistics & numerical data
  • Infectious Anemia Virus, Equine / genetics*
  • Infectious Anemia Virus, Equine / isolation & purification*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / standards
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary*
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Reference Standards
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Virology / methods
  • Virology / statistics & numerical data


  • DNA Primers
  • RNA, Viral

Associated data

  • GENBANK/K03334
  • GENBANK/M11337
  • GENBANK/M14855
  • GENBANK/M16575