Rapid detection of equine influenza virus H3N8 subtype by insulated isothermal RT-PCR (iiRT-PCR) assay using the POCKIT™ nucleic acid analyzer

Udeni B.R. Balasuriya, Pei Yu Alison Lee, Ashish Tiwari, Ashley Skillman, Bora Nam, Thomas M. Chambers, Yun Long Tsai, Li Juan Ma, Pai Chun Yang, Hsiao Fen Grace Chang, Hwa Tang Thomas Wang

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37 Scopus citations


Equine influenza (EI) is an acute, highly contagious viral respiratory disease of equids. Currently, equine influenza virus (EIV) subtype H3N8 continues to be the most important respiratory pathogen of horses in many countries around the world. The need to achieve a rapid diagnosis and to implement effective quarantine and movement restrictions is critical in controlling the spread of EIV. In this study, a novel, inexpensive and user-friendly assay based on an insulated isothermal RT-PCR (iiRT-PCR) method on the POCKIT™, a field-deployable device, was described and validated for point-of-need detection of EIV-H3N8 in clinical samples. The newly established iiRT-PCR assay targeting the EIV HA3 gene was evaluated for its sensitivity using in vitro transcribed (IVT) RNA, as well as ten-fold serial dilutions of RNA extracted from the prototype H3N8 strain A/equine/Miami/1/63. Inclusivity and exclusivity panels were tested for specificity evaluation. Published real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) assays targeting the NP and HA3 genes were used as the reference standards for comparison of RNA extracted from field strains and from nasal swab samples collected from experimentally infected horses, respectively. Limit of detection with a 95% probability (LoD95%) was estimated to be 11copies of IVT RNA. Clinical sensitivity analysis using RNA prepared from serial dilutions of a prototype EIV (Miami 1/63/H3N8) showed that the iiRT-PCR assay was about 100-fold more sensitive than the rRT-PCR assay targeting the NP gene of EIV subtype H3N8. The iiRT-PCR assay identified accurately fifteen EIV H3N8 strains and two canine influenza virus (CIV) H3N8 strains, and did not cross-react with H6N2, H7N7, H1N1 subtypes or any other equine respiratory viral pathogens. Finally, 100% agreement was found between the iiRT-PCR assay and the universal influenza virus type A rRT-PCR assay in detecting the EIV A/equine/Kentucky/7/07 strain in 56 nasal swab samples collected from experimentally inoculated horses. Therefore, the EIV H3N8 subtype specific iiRT-PCR assay along with the portable POCKIT™ Nucleic Acid Analyzer provides a highly reliable, sensitive and specific on-site detection system of both equine and canine influenza viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported from gifts and contracts to Dr. Udeni Balasuriya at the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center , Department of Veterinary Science and the Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station (project numbers 014040 and 014041), College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0099, USA.


  • Equine influenza virus
  • Insulated isothermal RT-PCR (iiRT-PCR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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