Prevalence-dependent use of serological tests for diagnosing glanders in horses

  • Sprague L
  • Zachariah R
  • Neubauer H
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: The internationally mandatory complement fixation test (CFT) for testing of equine sera for the absence of glanders has repeatedly led to discrepant results. Not only do "false positive" sera pose a problem for the diagnostician and the animal health authorities but they can also result in significant financial losses for the animal owners.Due to the very low prevalence of glanders in the horse population it is of major importance to use tests with a high specificity to overcome unreliable predictive values. We have compared formalin-fixed B. mallei whole cell antigen and a well characterised mouse monoclonal antibody with regard to their specificity and sensitivity for glanders serodiagnosis using CFT, an indirect (i) and a competitive (c) ELISA platform.

RESULTS: Our results show that the CFT is still a very reliable technique in horse populations with very low glanders prevalence. The cELISA has a high sensitivity and specificity comparable to that of the CFT. The cELISA offers the possibility for automatisation, can be applied to non-complement fixing sera and used for various host species.

CONCLUSION: The CFT is still the method of choice for testing horses for the absence of glanders.

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