Development and evaluation of a real-time PCR assay for the quantitative detection of Theileria annulata in cattle
1 Department of Animal Health, NEIKER - Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario, Berreaga 1, Derio, Bizkaia, 48160, Spain
2 Menorca Gestió Veterinària, Occs Menorca, SL, S’Ull de Sol 1, Alaior, Menorca, Balearic Islands, 07730, Spain
Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:171 doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-171Published: 13 August 2012
The tick-borne apicomplexan bovine parasite Theileria annulata is endemic in many tropical and temperate areas, including Minorca (Balearic Islands, Spain). Real-time PCR is widely used for the detection of piroplasms but quantification is not commonly considered.
We developed a real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for the detection and quantification of T. annulata that included an internal amplification control (IAC) to monitor for the presence of potential inhibitors. Specificity, sensitivity, precision, linear range and PCR efficiency were calculated and different methods for transformation of quantification cycle (Cq) values into quantities (Q) were evaluated. The assay was able to detect (100% probability) and quantify (linear response) 100 gene copies, and clinical sensitivity was set at 10 T. annulata per μl of blood. The assay was then validated on 141 bovine blood samples analyzed in parallel by a Luminex® suspension array, showing the utility of the qPCR assay developed here for the detection and quantification of the parasite in field conditions. Once validated it was used to monitor T. annulata parasitaemia throughout a year in 8 carrier animals from a farm in Minorca.
The developed qPCR assay offers a reliable and simple way to quantify T. annulata infection loads, which could prove crucial in studying the role of carrier animals as a source of the infection, or assessing the efficacy of treatment and control measures.