Diagnosis of bluetongue and entomological techniques

06 June, 2016 to 17 June, 2016

This is a laboratory based course that is designed for laboratory technicians or those who have a limited knowledge of bluetongue virus (BTV) and will be responsible for implementing BTV diagnostic techniques within the laboratory.  This course is not suitable for research or group leaders.  The course focuses on BTV diagnostic techniques including serological, molecular and virological methods of detection and entomology. Participants should have an understanding of virology and related methodologies.

What you need to know

Cost: £2000 tuition fee

Duration: 2 weeks, 6 – 17 June 2016

Accommodation: The Pirbright Institute has access to basic accommodation in shared houses at an additional cost of approximately £30 per night (excluding food). The number of rooms is however limited and availability is on a first come – first served basis and cannot therefore be guaranteed. The alternative is for course delegates to use local Bed & Breakfast accommodation which we can help them to find.

Biosecurity: The laboratory operates at BSL3 and delegates will be expected to adhere to tight biosecurity regulations, including a  strict three day quarantine and a shower upon exiting the laboratories daily. Further information wil be provided.

Places are limited. Applications close 4 April 2016

Course pre-requisites

In order for delegates to achieve the most possible from this training course, and to ensure their Health and Safety in the high containment facilities (BSL3) at The Pirbright Institute, all applicants are required to be able to demonstrate their ability in English language.  Where English is not the first language, a formal qualification is required. The standard is set as an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each subsection.  Alternative qualifications at a similar level are acceptable, e.g. TOEFL, CEF.  Please email pirbright.etraining@pirbright.ac.uk before applying if you require further information.

Participants requiring a VISA will need a full business visa.

Learning Objectives

The course will provide a thorough understanding of current diagnostic techniques for BTV. In addition, the course will discuss the clinical and pathological signs associated with BTV infection, the current distribution of BTV world-wide, transmission of BTV, BTV vectors (Culicoides identification) and molecular characterisation of BTV. The course will be delivered through a series of seminars, practical demonstrations and hands-on practical work in the BS laboratory.

Course Description

Topics to be discussed include:

Virus isolation – BTV

  • Passage of orbiviruses on cell culture 

Diagnostic tests – BTV

  • BTV antibody detection ELISA
  • Serum neutralisation test
  • Robotic nucleic acid extraction and Manual nucleic acid extraction
  • Real-time RT-PCR  and Serotype-specific RT-PCR
  • Segment 2 nucleotide sequencing


  • Identification of arthropod vectors
  • Constructing a dedicated surveillance system for arthropods: choosing the right system, defining capacity, analysing results
  • Colonising arthropod species of veterinary importance: initiation, maintenance and troubleshooting

Course material (CD and / or on-line) containing seminars and standard operating proceedures will be provided at the end of the course.

About the trainers

The BTV training course will be hosted by the Non Vesicular Reference Laboratories (NVRL), led by Dr Carrie Batten with assistance from the Arbovirus Molecular Research and Entomology groups.

The NVRL is responsible for the EU, OIE and national reference laboratories for BTV and forms part of the Vector-Borne Viral Diseases (VVD) programme at The Pirbright Institue.

The head of the VVD is Professor Peter Mertens who has led reseach into BTV for the last 30 years and who is the recognised OIE expert for BTV. Professor Mertens and his team have performed the molcular characterisation of the 26 BTV serotypes which has led to improved diagnostic techniques and a better understanding of the molecular epidemiology of BTV.

The Entomology group, led by Dr Simon Carpenter, maintains colonies of Culicoides, mosquitoes and ticks in the pupose built insectory at the Pirbright Institute and has led research into viral vectors for the last 10 years.


“I have a good opinion about the course: it was very well organised and the time was very well managed.”

“I was very happy with the training course, I received  a lot of new information and felt I learnt a lot  about the diagnosis of BTV. The course was very well organized and I was very impressed by the professionalism, patience and availability of the trainers.”

I was very impressed with the promptness and kindness with which the co ordinators responded to my various requests after the end of training course. I would like to keep in touch. Thank you for this training course” !

How to apply

Email your completed application form to pirbright.etraining@pirbright.ac.uk by 4 April 2016

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