Diagnostic sensitivity of pooled samples for the detection of tilapia lake virus and application to the estimation of within-farm prevalence

Jidapa Yamkasem, Sri Rajiv Kumar Roy, Matepiya Khemthong, Ian A. Gardner, Win Surachetpong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Tilapia lake virus (TiLV) is a highly contagious novel orthomyxo-like RNA virus that is negatively impacting tilapia production worldwide. To prevent TiLV from spreading globally, the infection status of source farms needs to be established prior to the movement of live tilapia to minimize the risk of horizontal transmission. However, testing individual fish for TiLV requires large sample sizes, when within-farm prevalence is low and is costly, time-consuming, and labour-intensive. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the use of pool testing for TiLV detection and to estimate within-farm prevalence based on the percentage of positive pooled samples. Pooled samples of liver and spleen were prepared by diluting different numbers of positive tissue samples with negative homogenate tissue samples. A tissue pool from 5 or 10 individual fish containing at least one TiLV-positive sample was sufficient to yield a positive result except when cycle threshold (Ct) values were between 31 and the cut-off value of 34. Additionally, our study characterized viral load in two farms after TiLV outbreaks. Bayesian modelling showed that within-farm prevalence could be estimated from the percentage of positive pools of size 5 using prior information about pool sensitivity and specificity, and prevalence, and assuming random sampling of tilapia from infected ponds. Ninety-five percent posterior intervals for prevalence were slightly wider than those obtained based on the results of individual samples. Findings in the present study corroborate the use of a pooling strategy for post-outbreak surveillance of TiLV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • pooled samples
  • tilapia
  • tilapia lake virus; diagnosis
  • within-farm prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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