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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

Print version ISSN 1019-9128

Abstract

SCHMIDT, T; VENTER, E H  and  PICARD, J A. Evaluation of PCR assays for the detection of Campylobacter fetus in bovine preputial scrapings and the identification of subspecies in South African field isolates. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2010, vol.81, n.2, pp. 87-92. ISSN 1019-9128.

As a result of the high lability and slow growth of Campylobacter fetus subspecies, the laboratory diagnosis of bovine genital campylobacteriosis has always been difficult. This is especially true under South African conditions, where farms are far apart, laboratories are only present in major centres and there are high ambient temperatures. In order to overcome the shortcomings associated with traditional diagnostic methods, the implementation of a molecular assay was sought. This work describes how a previously published PCR assay (MG3F/ MG4R primers) was adapted, optimised and applied in the diagnostic laboratory to test preputial samples directly for the presence of Campylobacter fetus. Field evaluation of the assay revealed an analytical sensitivity and specificity of 85.7 % and 99 %, respectively. Subsequent genotyping and phenotyping of a diverse collection of South African field isolates revealed that South Africa has an unexpected and previously unreported high incidence of Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis biovar intermedius strains. These strains were not identified correctly by the subspecies-specific primer set evaluated. Until such time that cost-effective genotyping methods are available to diagnostic laboratories in South Africa, and other countries with these atypical Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis strains, the need for bacterial culture will persist. Identification to subspecies level of isolates at present remains dependent upon a single phenotypic criterion, namely tolerance to 1 % glycine.

Keywords : bovine genital campylobacteriosis; Campylobacter fetus fetus; Campylobacter fetus venerealis biovar intermedius; culture; polymerase chain reaction.

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