Development and evaluation of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the serodiagnosis of pythiosis in dogs

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Pythiosis (caused by the aquatic oomycete Pythium insidiosum) is a devastating and often fatal cause of either severe transmural gastroenteritis or locally invasive subcutaneous disease in dogs living in the southeastern United States. Although early diagnosis is essential for successful treatment, tools available for this task are limited. Therefore, we developed and evaluated an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the detection of anti-P insidiosum antibodies in canine serum. A soluble mycelial extract of P insidiosum was utilized as antigen in the ELISA, which was used to evaluate serum from 43 dogs with pythiosis, 8 dogs with lagenidiosis (another canine oomycosis), 16 dogs with nonoomycotic fungal or algal infections, 22 dogs with nonfungal gastrointestinal or skin disease, and 55 healthy dogs. Results were expressed as percent positivity (PP) relative to a strong positive control serum run on each plate. Medians and ranges for each of the 5 groups were as follows: pythiosis (81.7%, 50.6-98.5%), lagenidiosis (17.3%, 11.3-29.2%), other fungal or algal infections (8.2%, 4.7-15.4%), nonfungal gastrointestinal or skin disease (6.2%, 3.9-20.7%), and healthy dogs (6.7%, 3.0-15.2%). When using a cutoff value of 40% PP, the sensitivity and specificity of the ELISA both were 100%. In addition, ELISA values measured after successful surgical therapy in 2 dogs showed a decrease of anti-P insidiosum antibody concentrations into the normal range as early as 2 months after treatment. We conclude that the ELISA is a sensitive and specific test for the diagnosis of canine pythiosis, and may be a useful tool for monitoring response to medical or surgical therapy.

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Journal of veterinary internal medicine

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