Evaluation of an ELISA for detection of antibodies to Babesia bovis in cattle in Australia and Zimbabwe

Prev Vet Med. 1998 Jan;33(1-4):59-67. doi: 10.1016/s0167-5877(97)00063-9.


An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for antibodies to Babesia bovis was evaluated in comparison with the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) in Australia and Zimbabwe. Positive and negative threshold values for the ELISA were set using sera from cattle of known infection status. Sensitivity and specificity estimates for the ELISA based on 158 positive sera from cattle experimentally infected with Australian isolates of B. bovis and 318 negative sera collected from B. bovis-free herds in Australia were 100% and 99.4%, respectively. The specificity of the assay in Africa, based on 328 sera from B. bovis-free herds in Kenya and South Africa, was 99.7%. The ELISA was compared with the IFAT using sequential sera from 16 calves experiencing primary B. bovis infections, and a total of 777 field sera collected from B. bovis-endemic herds in Australia and Zimbabwe. In primary infections, the ELISA and IFAT detected antibodies at or about the same time. With sera from endemic herds, the performance of the ELISA was at least comparable with that of the IFAT. Two hundred and fourteen of 221 sera that were negative by IFAT, were negative by ELISA, and 428 of 439 sera that were clearly positive by IFAT were positive by ELISA. Of 117 sera that gave equivocal (suspect or weak positive) results in the IFAT, 20 were positive by ELISA, 7 were suspect and 90 were negative. We conclude that the ELISA will be useful for epidemiological studies on B. bovis in Australia and Zimbabwe, and probably elsewhere.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / analysis*
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Babesia bovis / immunology*
  • Babesiosis / diagnosis*
  • Babesiosis / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / veterinary
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Zimbabwe / epidemiology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan