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Validation of a new immunofluorescence antibody test for the detection of Leishmania infantum infection in cats

  • Protozoology - Original Paper
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The prevalence data of Leishmania infantum infection in cats are characterized by a large variability mainly attributed to the differences in diagnostic techniques. In the absence of consensus about the method of choice for diagnosing feline leishmaniosis, the performance of a new immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) was herein analytically described by the comparison with IFAT commonly used for the diagnosis of canine leishmaniosis (i.e., IFAT-OIE) and a laboratory enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Sera of cats living in visceral leishmaniosis–endemic (n = 105) and visceral leishmaniosis–non-endemic (n = 50) areas were tested by the above methodologies and real-time PCR (qPCR). The most frequent result was represented by triple negativity to the three tests (IFAT-OIE, ELISA, and qPCR) in 42.9% and 80% cats from endemic and non-endemic areas, respectively. Bayes latent class analysis gave an output probability of 34.1% (posterior standard deviation, psd = 5.4%) of true L. infantum cases (TCL) which represent the true estimated prevalence of infection. The sensitivity of each variable contributing to define the TCL was 24% (psd = 6.3%) for qPCR, 78.8% (psd = 8.7%) for ELISA and 91.8% (psd = 5.2%) for IFAT-OIE. The probability to be a TCL was 94.5% for the sample from an endemic area. The cross-validation of the new IFAT by a logistic model correctly identified as positive 80.7% of subjects defined as TCL and negative 89.9% as not TCL, respectively, by the Bayesian model. The study results estimate a good accuracy of the IFAT in predicting cats exposed to L. infantum. Therefore, this procedure may be beneficial for screening cat populations for a better understanding of the epidemiology of feline leishmaniosis.

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The authors would like to thank IDEXX (Westbrook, ME, USA) for providing the serum samples from cats living in a non-endemic area.

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Correspondence to Domenico Otranto.

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Iatta, R., Trerotoli, P., Lucchese, L. et al. Validation of a new immunofluorescence antibody test for the detection of Leishmania infantum infection in cats. Parasitol Res 119, 1381–1386 (2020).

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