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Farm Animal Practice
Demystifying diagnostic testing: non-culture techniques for large animal infectious disease
  1. Kath Webster

    Kath Webster graduated from the University of Newcastle with a degree in agricultural zoology. She subsequently gained a PhD in veterinary parasitology from the University of Glasgow and then undertook postdoctoral research in the Medicine Department at the University of Southampton on the aetiology of type 1 diabetes. She joined the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in 1990, initially undertaking research and surveillance projects on a variety of parasitic diseases. In 1998, she became head of the Biotechnology Department. She specialises in test development and validation, particularly for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.


MOLECULAR biological methods have become increasingly applicable to the diagnosis of infectious disease. To become widely used, the methods need to be easy, safe, sensitive, reproducible and eventually automated to facilitate the evaluation of large numbers of samples. Antigens (generally proteins) or nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) can be detected in samples to provide evidence of infection with specific organisms. These types of approach are considered in this article. Alternatively, the organism may be cultured or products of the immune system that have been produced in response to infection, such as antibodies or cytokines, may be detected.

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