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The effect of pooling sera on the detection of avian pneumovirus antibodies using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test.

Abstract

Pooling of samples is a cost-effective approach to estimate disease prevalence and to identify infected individuals. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of serum pools for the detection of avian pneumovirus infection in turkey flocks by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, so that a minimum number of tests can be performed without compromising the sensitivity and specificity of the test. A total of 900 field samples were tested; 20 samples from each of 45 flocks. All samples were tested individually followed by pool testing in groups of 3, 4, 5, and 7 samples each. The number of positive pools for a given pool size was positively associated with the number of positive samples. In a separate experiment, the effect of dilution was examined by pooling 1 positive sample with different numbers of negative samples to form pools of sizes 2-7. These laboratory results were analyzed and integrated into a simulation model aimed at evaluating cost-efficient testing procedures. The probability of detecting an infected flock depended on prevalence of infection, size of serum pool, and the cutoff value used for optical density difference. At a theoretical prevalence of 20%, the probability of detecting an infected flock was 0.93 and 0.86 for a pool of 2 and 7, respectively. The probability of detecting positive flocks increased with increased prevalence and decreased cutoff. Pooling of samples represented a significant reduction in the cost of testing, suggesting that pooling is more advantageous and cost effective than testing individual samples.

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