H. mustelae, H. avium, H. felis

Research Associates Laboratory (R.A.L., Inc.) is now offering the first non-invasive test for Helicobacter mustelae in ferrets. Previous diagnostics have been limited to biopsy or necropsy, leaving little help for practitioners and pet owners. Many researchers and veterinarians have felt that H. Mustelae may infect upwards of 100% of all ferrets in the U.S.

Working with veterinary researchers, Dr. Angela Lennox and Dr. Cathy Johnson-Delaney, R.A.L., Inc., undertook the task of first developing a set of DNA primers to accurately detect the presence of H. Mustelae and to determine which samples would provide the most accurate, reliable results. Histological samples, along with immuno chemistry stains were used as positive control sample to validate testing data. Various tissue, blood and swab (rectal and gastric) samples were submitted from approximately 40 ferrets. Test subjects represented a variety of health status: clinical, non-clinical, therapy and post mortem. Results were presented by Dr. Lennox at the ICE Conference in Naples, FL, May 6-8, 2004.

Through the use of Real-Time PCR testing, we were able to design an efficient set of primers to detect the organism. Real-Time PCR testing allows us to identify disease status and at the same time determine the amount or organism present. Gastric swabs proved to be the most reliable source for detection in ferrets. Occasionally detection was accompanied, to a lesser degree, with associated rectal swab or blood sample.

The greatest benefits of Real-Time PCR are the ability to 1)determine the presence of the target organism, 2)quantify (measure) the amount of the target organism, and 3)monitor levels during and post-treatment. Real-Time PCR is faster and more sensitive than conventional PCR testing. Thanks to Real-Time PCR, we can provide information critical to practitioners and their patients.

Sample for Live Animal: Gastric swab

Post Mortem Sample: Gastric swab or gastric mucosa (stomach tissue) in 10% formalin