A previously described bluetongue virus (BTV) serogroup polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was applied to clinical samples. The sensitivity of the BTV serogroup PCR was increased by the use of non-radioactive chemiluminescent hybridization. Unfractionated whole blood samples from rams experimentally inoculated with cell culture-adapted BTV- 11 UC-8 were analyzed by virus isolation (VI) on Vero cells and PCR. VI and PCR were in agreement, with the exception of 3 blood samples that were VI negative and PCR positive. In semen spiked with BTV- 11 UC-8, PCR detected as little as 1.6 × 102 plaque-forming units of BTV/ml of semen. BTV in the spleen of a sheep submitted for necropsy for suspect BTV infection was detected by both PCR and VI in embryonated chicken eggs. BTV PCR with nonradioactive chemiluminescent hybridization resulted in a level of sensitivity comparable to that of VI and likly more sensitive than VI on Vero cells for blood. This BTV PCR has great promise for rapid, sensitive, and specific detection of active BTV infection in a variety of clinical samples.
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