Comparison of serological assays for the diagnosis of canine visceral leishmaniasis in animals presenting different clinical manifestations

Vet Parasitol. 2007 May 31;146(3-4):235-41. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2007.02.015. Epub 2007 Apr 2.


Three serological methods, indirect fluorescent immunoassay (IFI), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and direct agglutination test (DAT) that are commonly employed in the diagnosis of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL), have been assessed. A total of 234 domestic dogs, drawn from an area in the municipality of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, endemic for visceral leishmaniasis, were submitted to clinical and parasitological examinations and serological assay. Sera collected from confirmed non-infected dogs (n=20), and from dogs with other parasitic diseases including Trypanosoma cruzi (n=7), Leishmania braziliensis (n=5), Toxoplasma gondii (n=5) and Ehrlichia canis (n=3), were also included in the study. IFI presented a lower sensitivity (72%) than ELISA (95%), although the specificities of these assays were low (52 and 64%, respectively) and both exhibited cross-reactivity with sera from dogs infected with T. cruzi, L. braziliensis and E. canis. In contrast, DAT exhibited a high sensitivity (93%) and a high specificity (95%) and cross-reacted with only one serum sample derived from an E. canis-infected dog. The reproducibilities of the ELISA and DAT assays were excellent, whilst that of IFI was considered to be acceptable. The results produced by ELISA and DAT were in complete agreement, those between ELISA and IFI were at an acceptable level of agreement, whilst the concurrence between the IFI and DAT results were either acceptable or poor depending on the clinical conditions of the group of dogs examined. Since there is no readily accessible method for the diagnosis of CVL that offers 100% specificity and sensitivity, the choice of technique employed must depend on the aim of the investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / blood*
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / blood
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests / veterinary*