Feasibility of pooled-sample testing for the detection of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus antibodies on serum samples by ELISA.


Surveillance of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in negative sow farms is usually performed by testing for the presence of antibodies against PRRS virus in serum with a commercial ELISA test. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of pooling serum samples for detection of PRRS virus antibodies by ELISA. The effect of pool size on the sensitivity and specificity of the ELISA test was evaluated by testing true positive samples and false positive samples, respectively, diluted in negative sera. The effect of three different cut-off values for the interpretation of the diagnostic test (0.4, 0.3 and 0.2) was evaluated as well. Furthermore, the obtained sensitivity and specificity estimates were used to calculate the herd sensitivity and herd specificity of surveillance protocols in different scenarios. The results showed that pooling serum samples to detect PRRSV antibodies resulted in a decrease in sensitivity and an increase in specificity, compared to testing individual samples, while the reduction of the s/p cut-off value recommended by the manufacturer (0.4) had the opposite effect. We describe an approach that can increase the herd sensitivity of a surveillance protocol for breeding herds, while maintaining high herd specificity and low testing costs. This can be achieved by sampling a larger number of animals and running the samples in pools. Therefore, the conventional monitoring protocols based on ELISA on individual samples can be improved by using pooled-sample testing.

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