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OIE Reference Laboratory for Contagious Agalactia (RELAC)

The OIE Reference Laboratory for Contagious Agalactia (RELAC) is part of the Special Diagnostics belonging to the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia (IZSS), a Public Veterinary Institution located in Sicily and supported by the Ministry of Health.  RELAC is the official laboratory to confirm suspected outbreaks of contagious agalactia (CA) and other mycoplasma infections. The laboratory is integrated in all the laboratory services of the IZSS including administration, epidemiology, biochemistry & special bacteriology, biobanking, molecular biology and research.

Group photo relac

Activities and services

RELAC performs clinical consultancy, isolation and identification of mycoplasmas from all farm animals suspected of mycoplasma diseases, identifying at least 200 isolates per year from small ruminants and another 50 from large ruminants.  The group also performs serological diagnosis on over 5000 animal sera using a variety of techniques. Conventional and real time PCRs are used routinely for identification of the pathogens and diagnosis especially when mycoplasmas are difficult to cultivate.

The laboratory continually improves its diagnostic performances investing in innovative technology such as the latest molecular biology methods recently developed in the laboratory : PCR, Real-Time PCR, DGGE, LAMP test, sequencing, Immunoblotting. It organises regular workshops in the application and use of these methods.

Current research topics:

  1. Development and application of new field diagnostic tests in particular LAMP;
  2. Immunology of mycoplasma diseases of small ruminants and related pathological changes during these infections. In these cases the laboratory has set up flow cytometry methods and other immunhistochemical tests to identify in affected tissues the target cell and/or humoral response involved in the disease;
  3. Investigating the survival and persistence of Mycoplasma agalactiae in the farm environment;
  4. Estimation of the economic impact of  CA on Sicilian herds and flocks;

The laboratory has also developed the most reliable infection model for the disease particularly related to vaccine, antibiotic efficacy and safety studies. The laboratory has performed this work for over 20 years and has acquired long veterinary and clinical experience and background in control of disease outbreaks throughout the region.

Laboratory staff

Guido Ruggero Loria, DVM PhD, senior researcher

Roberto Puleio, DVM, senior researcher

Annalisa Tamburello, biologist

Francesca Messina, biologist

Alessio Parco, biologist

Serena Tumino, agronomist (Molecular Biology expert)

Marco Tolone, biostatistician

Silvia Oliveri, agronomist

Robin A.J.Nicholas, MSc, PhD, FRCPath senior consultant
(Supervision, training management and data/report referee)

Salvatore Abbene, DVM Private Professional (Animal farm manager)


Tel. +390916565307

Cell. +393351385824





OIE Reference Laboratory for Contagious Agalactia

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia

Via G. Marinuzzi 3, 90129 Palermo, Italy