PBD Biotech’s new test, Actiphage®, which enables rapid early identification of the strain of mycobacteria, is being discussed at the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) Congress in Birmingham today.
Antelopes, elephants, tigers and kangaroos are among the species that have been tested with the easy-to-use diagnostic, offering a new way to detect and manage TB, as Dr Ben Swift, R&D Director at PBD Biotech and Research Fellow at the Royal Veterinary College, will explain to vets and other exotic species specialists at the annual conference.
TB in zoos came to public attention last year when Devon’s Paignton Zoo detected a single case in one of its antelope. Without access to a test that would deliver rapid results, the zoo had to cull the remaining 10-strong herd of Kafue Flats lechwe.
The Actiphage test has the ability to identify TB and other mycobacterial diseases in animals before clinical symptoms of infection are observed.
It can detect with high specificity the presence of any mycobacteria in animal blood within 6 hours in comparison to culturing mycobacteria, which can take up to 12 weeks.
The technology has been successfully applied to blood samples from 17 different species so far, including alpacas, deer, goats and badgers as well as exotic animals such as lions, giraffes and camels. Trials have confirmed PBD Biotech’s assay can detect live mycobacteria in blood or milk samples at very high sensitivity, of less than 10 mycobacterial cells per ml of sample.
At the BVZS Congress, PBD Biotech’s Director of R&D, Dr Swift, will share insights and findings from Actiphage studies.
He said: “The Actiphage detection method provides a major step change in the detection of viable mycobacteria and has the potential to revolutionise the control and understanding of mycobacterial diseases in zoo animals, wildlife and a range of other species.
“The use of bacteriophage means the test can detect mycobacteria before an immune response is fully developed, giving vets, zoo-keepers and other exotics experts a head start on the race to catch TB and other diseases in the hope of preventing the unnecessary cull of protected animals.”