Comparison of Immunohistochemistry, Electron Microscopy, and Direct Fluorescent Antibody Test for the Detection of Bovine Coronavirus

J Vet Diagn Invest. 1998 Apr;10(2):152-7. doi: 10.1177/104063879801000206.


Bovine coronavirus (BCV) is 1 of the major causes of calf diarrhea and has also been implicated in respiratory infections of young calves and winter dysentery of adult cattle. Currently, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), direct fluorescent antibody (DFA), and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) techniques are considered standard methods for the diagnosis of BCV infection. However, these techniques are not useful if fresh tissues and intestinal contents are not available for examination. The detection of viral antigens in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues using immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a suitable alternative. In the present study, 166 tissue specimens were tested by IHC for the presence of BCV. These tissues were from animals whose feces were positive for rotavirus and/or coronavirus by TEM. Some of these samples were also tested by DFA. Thus, TEM, DFA, and IHC were compared for the detection of BCV. There was 56% agreement among the 3 methods (overall kappa = 0.368). When IHC was compared with TEM, 78% agreement was observed (kappa = 0.475). Similarly, IHC and DFA had 64% agreement (kappa = 0.277). These kappa values indicate a moderate degree of agreement between IHC and TEM; agreement between IHC and DFA was fair. The results of this study indicate that IHC may be a suitable adjunct for the detection of BCV because of its simplicity, ease of use, and relatively close correlation with TEM results.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases*
  • Cats
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / veterinary*
  • Coronavirus, Bovine / isolation & purification*
  • Diarrhea / veterinary
  • Diarrhea / virology
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs
  • Feces / virology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Direct
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases*