Towards European harmonisation of contagious equine metritis diagnosis through interlaboratory trials

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The performance of culture and PCR methods routinely used to diagnose contagious equine metritis (CEM) was evaluated and compared by two interlaboratory trials involving a total of 24 European laboratories, including 22 National Reference Laboratories for CEM. Samples were swab specimens artificially contaminated with bacteria present in the genital tract of Equidae, some with and some without Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative agent of CEM, and T asinigenitalis, responsible for possible misidentification as T equigenitalis. Throughout both interlaboratory trials, PCR performed better in terms of specificity and sensitivity than the culture method, supporting the assertion that PCR should be accepted for CEM diagnosis. However, the culture performance during the second interlaboratory trial was better than during the first one, suggesting that the expertise of participants improved. This reveals the advantage of regular interlaboratory trials to constantly improve the expertise of laboratories. It also shows the need to develop new culture media that are more selective and/or better geared to the metabolism of T equigenitalis in order to improve the bacteriological diagnosis of CEM.

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