Jeff Zimmerman, DVM, and colleagues at Iowa State University have developed a simple, pen-based community sampling method of collecting oral fluids that shows promise for low-cost routine monitoring. The basic analysis of this procedure using standard ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) methods has shown promise in experimental and field conditions.

To test the validity of pen-based monitoring, researchers used ELISA to characterize oral fluids for PRRS virus antibodies.

The study, carried out in three replicates, showed that assay conditions must be optimized for oral fluid samples to increase sensitivity, and that anti-PRRS virus antibodies appear in oral fluids at the same time or later than in serum.

Interestingly, IgG antibodies were more abundant in sampling of individual pigs with absorbent wicks, while IgA antibodies were more present in pen sampling with a rope.

These findings support the value of pen-based sampling and suggest that multiple mechanisms regulate antibody secretion into the oral cavity.

Funding for this research project was provided by the National Pork Board.

Researcher: Michael Murtaugh, University of Minnesota. For more information, contact Murtaugh by phone (612) 625-6737, fax (612) 625-5203 or e-mail Murta001@umn.edu.