Comparison of the specificity and sensitivity of PCR, nested PCR, and real-time PCR for the diagnosis of histomoniasis.

Research paper by H M HM Hafez, R R Hauck, D D Lüschow, L L McDougald

Indexed on: 29 Oct '05Published on: 29 Oct '05Published in: Avian diseases


Blackhead, also known as enterohepatitis, is caused by a protozoan parasite called Histomonas meleagridis. Clinical symptoms are nonspecific. Until now, diagnosis has been mainly based on postmortem lesions and microscopical and histopathological examination. In many cases, especially in layer flocks, these conventional methods are not sufficient, as the lesions are sometimes not clear. The technique for isolation of histomonads in vitro offers many advantages, but the confirmation of histomonads growing in culture may require a time-consuming procedure of rectal inoculation of culture material into chickens or turkeys. The aim of our investigation was to establish a conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a nested PCR, and a real-time PCR, and to examine their specificity as well as sensitivity in the diagnosis of histomoniasis. The obtained results have shown that the conventional PCR is more sensitive than the real-time PCR. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the PCR can be increased by adding the nested PCR. However, the real-time PCR is more specific.