Virology and molecular detection (PCR) tests are provided only at the Auburn laboratory. The Virology and Molecular Section consists of two separate laboratories. Both provide services including the detection and identification of viral pathogens from animal tissues, serum, body fluids, and feces.

The Virology Laboratory conducts virus isolation (cell culture and egg inoculation); fluorescent antibody (FA); antigen capture ELISA; and electron microscopy (EM). These tests detect viruses by visible damage to cells or chicken embryos in culture system, or detect the presence of virus antigens. The virology laboratory also conducts serology tests that involve the usage of cell cultures.

The Molecular Detection laboratory detects viruses by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), real-time Reverse Transcription PCR (RRT-PCR), and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) assay. In addition to viruses, certain bacteria and parasites are also identified by PCR testing.   

The Molecular Detection laboratory of TBSSL participates in national disease surveillance programs to screen animal population for highly pathogenic avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease.

Diagnostic Virology and Molecular Detection Specimen Submissions

  • Collect specimens aseptically during the early stages of infection.
  • In cases involving flock or herd problems, collect specimens from multiple animals at various stages of the disease.
  • Choose appropriate specimens by referring to the preferred specimen column in the Fee Schedule or call the lab for suggestions.
  • Most viruses are heat-labile and are inactivated within minutes at 600C and within hours at 370C. Specimens should be refrigerated immediately after collection and hand carried or express-mailed to ensure that they reach the laboratory under refrigerated conditions, or on wet ice.
  • For delays of more than 24 hours between specimen collection and submission to the laboratory, pack specimens in individual plastic bags and freeze immediately. If dry ice is used, seal samples in airtight containers to prevent exposure of viruses to CO2.
  • High-impact Styrofoam boxes make good containers for mailing frozenspecimens. Sufficient refrigerant (cold packs) must be added to maintain tissues in frozen condition until received by the laboratory. Refer to Shipping instructions elsewhere in this website.
  • Accurate interpretation of viral serology depends on animal and herd history, type and date of vaccinations and comparisons of acute and convalescent titers. Provide as much information as possible.
  • Serum or virus neutralization tests are used for some viral serological tests. Any microbial or chemical contamination of the sera can cause toxicity to the cells. Clear serum in sterile tubes held under refrigerated conditions should be submitted.
  • Mail samples to the laboratory in the early part of the week so that specimens do not overheat during transport delays over the weekend.
  • The laboratory reserves the right to determine the suitability of a specimen for testing as well as recommending appropriate tests depending on the case history.
  • Viral transport media, brain heart infusion broth (Avian influenza and Newcastle disease testing) and PBS solution (BVD - ear notch testing) are available from the lab. Please contact the lab for freshly prepared media.
  • To expedite sample processing contact the Virology laboratory (334-844-7266) prior to submitting large numbers (>10) of samples for virus isolation.
  • PCR specimens: Submit all samples as quickly as possible and keep them chilled during transport to the lab for best results. Contact the Molecular laboratory with questions (334-844-7265)