Evaluation of a rapid IgM detection test for diagnosis of acute leptospirosis in dogs

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Recently, a lateral flow assay (LFA) for detection of Leptospira-specific IgM in canine sera became commercially available in Europe. The present study aims to evaluate the diagnostic performance of this assay using canine sera from a collection of diagnostic accessions. Diagnostic sensitivity was assessed by testing 37 acute-phase and 9 corresponding convalescent-phase sera from dogs with a confirmed diagnosis of leptospirosis. Specificity was determined by testing sera from sick dogs with non-leptospiral infections (n=15) and healthy dogs with incomplete history of vaccination (n=45). During acute phase of illness, LFA scored positive for 28/37 sera with a sensitivity of 75.7 per cent while only 9/37 (24.3 per cent) samples were positive on microscopic agglutination test. The specificity of the LFA was 98.3 per cent (59/60). This test showed 89.7 and 100 per cent overall agreements with clinical diagnosis for acute-phase and convalescent-phase sera, respectively. The impact of vaccination on the LFA was also determined and vaccine-stimulated IgM responses were negative in 19/25 (76 per cent) dogs at 12 weeks post vaccination. In conclusion, the LFA is a rapid and reliable test for early detection of Leptospira-specific IgM during acute phase of canine leptospirosis. However, interpretation of a positive result must be made in the context of clinical signs and vaccination history.

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