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SARS-CoV-2 molecular testing for horses

SARS-CoV-2 molecular testing for horses

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Molecular test

  •  Reference laboratory diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 are carried out by means of genome amplification tests (RNA) in a polymerase chain reaction in real time, preceded by reverse transcription (rRT-PCR).


Sample type
  • Exudate from the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal collected through a swab.


Turnaround time
  • 72 hours (3 working days)



Why should we test horses ?

The test should be done in horses who have had contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

However, there are no confirmed reports of equines infected with SARS-CoV-2. 

For more info check the OIE website

When can horses should take the test?

In general, the test can be performed 5 to 14 days after contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19.  

The test it is based on the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 genome (RNA) by real-time rRT-PCR techniques in exudates from the nasopharynx and oropharynx. In human the viral load is higher in the first days of infection and starts to decrease after 15 days after infection.


What is the specificity and sensitivity of these tests?

The real-time RT-PCR test used is 100% specific and does not cross-react with other human coronaviruses. For molecular diagnosis, we use two different SARS-CoV-2 proteins as targets.

The sensitivity of the molecular test depends on the viral load present in the sample. The viral load is maximal 5-7 days after infection and from then on it starts to decrease, becoming diminished 15 days after infection.

In order to assess the specificity and sensitivity of our rRT-PCR molecular tests and quality procedures implemented, the laboratory was subjected in May 2020 to an international blind external evaluation of the QCMD 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak Preparedness EQA Pilot Study (CVOP20).

In this external evaluation of QCMD we obtained the maximum score with 0% of errors in samples considered ‘core’ and in educational samples. Thus, we obtained 100% specificity and a sensitivity to detect 1 to 5 viral particles/reaction.