Leishmania exposure in dogs from two endemic countries from New and Old Worlds (Brazil and Portugal): evaluation of three serological tests using Bayesian Latent Class Models

Carla Maia, Deborah Bittencourt Mothé Fraga, José Cristóvão, Lairton Souza Borja, Manuela Da Silva Solcà, Lenea Campino, Patrícia Sampaio Tavares Veras, Luzia Gonçalves

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Background: Zoonotic leishmaniosis caused by Leishmania infantum is endemic in several countries of the Mediterranean Basin, Latin America, and Asia. Dogs are the main hosts and reservoirs of human infection. Thus, from a One Health perspective, early diagnosis of Leishmania infection in dogs is essential to control the dissemination of the parasite among other dogs and to humans. The aim of this study was to estimate the diagnosis accuracy of three serological tests to detect antibodies to Leishmania in dogs from two endemic settings using Bayesian latent class models (BLCM). Methods: A total of 378 dogs from two Portuguese and Brazilian endemic areas of leishmaniosis (194 animals from Portugal and 184 from Brazil) were screened. Detection of anti-Leishmania antibodies was performed using two commercial ELISA (L. infantum IgG-ELISA® and EIE-LVC®) and a rapid immunochromatographic test (DPP-LVC®). Bayesian latent class models were used to estimate Leishmania infection prevalence, together with sensitivities and specificities of the three diagnostic tests, in the two dog populations simultaneously. Predictive values were also calculated. Credibility intervals (CI) were obtained, considering different types of prior information. Results: A posterior median Leishmania seroprevalence of 13.4% (95% CI 9.0–18.7) and of 21.6% (15.0–28.3) was estimated to the Portuguese and Brazilian dog subpopulations, respectively. The Bayesian analysis indicated that all tests were highly specific (specificity above 90%), and that the DPP-LVC® was more sensitive (96.6%; 83.1–99.9) than both ELISAs in the Portuguese subpopulation, while in the Brazilian subpopulation, EIE-LVC® and L. infantum IgG-ELISA®, had the highest sensitivity (88.2%; 73.7–97.0) and specificity (98.7%; 95.1–99.9), respectively. Conclusions: In general, the levels of diagnosis accuracy of the three serological tests to detect Leishmania antibodies assessed by BLCM indicate their utility in canine epidemiological studies. The same approach should be used to assess the performance of these techniques in the clinical management of infected and sick dogs using representative samples from the wide spectrum of clinical situations, namely from subclinical infection to manifest disease. The low positive predictive value of the serological tests used in the current protocol of the Brazilian Ministry of Health suggests that they should not be used individually and may not be sufficient to target reservoir-based control interventions. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number202
JournalParasites & Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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