Volume 78, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Dogs which are infected with leishmania parasites serve as major reservoir hosts for zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis. The incidence of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis is rising in many countries. This may be associated with the continuing drift of people and their pets from rural areas into peri-urban settings, particularly at the fringe of large cities. At the same time, there is evidence of adaptation of sand fly vectors to these urban settings. This has created an alarming situation because, even though domestic and stray dogs may be infected, many remain asymptomatic but are still highly infectious to the sand fly vectors and thus pose a serious threat to human health. Over half of the infected dogs have asymptomatic infections and current assays are not sensitive enough under field conditions to distinguish asymptomatic from symptomatic dogs. There is an urgent need for a specific and sensitive screening tool for use in the field. We have previously demonstrated that promastigote exo-antigen-based ELISAs can be used in the specific diagnosis of human visceral leishmaniasis (HVL). A cocktail of exo-antigens prepared from three species (i, and ) was used to develop and optimize a canine ELISA assay. Serum samples from dogs with a variety of pathological conditions but living in a non-leishmania endemic area were used as negative controls and their reactivity was used to determine a cut-off value for the ELISA. Samples from dogs residing in a leishmania endemic area were tested in parallel using direct agglutination (DAT), immunofluorescence (IFAT), and ELISA. The ELISA results correlated closely (100%) with the clinical symptoms, and were elevated in one asymptomatic dog. This sample was also found to be positive by IFAT. Based on its sensitivity and specificity, the cocktail exo-antigen-based ELISA may prove useful, even at 1:2,000 serum dilutions, for screening dogs in different geographical regions of the world.


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  • Received : 27 Jun 2007
  • Accepted : 18 Dec 2007

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