Animal Health Research Reviews

Review Article

The development of oral fluid-based diagnostics and applications in veterinary medicine

John R. Pricketta1 c1 and Jeffrey J. Zimmermana1

a1 Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA


The purpose of this review was to discuss the history of the development and implementation of oral fluid diagnostics for infectious diseases of humans and domestic animals. The use of oral fluid for the assessment of health and diagnosis of disease in humans and animals has a surprisingly long history. As early as 1909, Pollaci and Ceraulo reported sensitive and specific agglutination of ‘Micrococcus melitensis’ (Brucella melitensis) by oral fluid from patients diagnosed with Malta Fever. A 1986 report of the detection of antibodies against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in oral fluid from patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) marked the start of a remarkably rapid series of developments in oral fluid-based assays. Cumulatively, the literature strongly supports implementation of oral fluid-based diagnostics in veterinary diagnostic medicine. Pathogen-specific IgA, IgM and IgG antibodies have all been demonstrated in oral fluid collected from diverse domestic animal species in response to infection. A variety of infectious agents, both local and systemic, are shed in oral fluid, including some of the most economically significant pathogens of production animals (e.g. foot-and-mouth disease virus, classical swine fever virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus) Ultimately, point-of-care rapid assays (i.e. cow-side, sow-side or pen-side tests) and access to real-time infectious disease data will revolutionize our delivery of health management services.

(Received December 02 2009)

(Accepted January 07 2010)

(Online publication March 05 2010)


c1 Corresponding author. E-mail: