Evaluation of a commercial rabies ELISA as a replacement for serum neutralization assays as part of the pet travel scheme and oral vaccination campaigns of foxes

Knoop, E.V.; Freuling, Conrad Martin GND; Kliemt, Jeannette GND; Selhorst, Thomas GND; Conraths, Franz Josef GND; Müller, Thomas GND

EU Regulation 998/2003 requires the serological testing of rabies-vaccinated dogs and cats in approved laboratories using serum neutralization tests prior to movement of pet animals between certain EU member states and before pet animals are imported from unlisted third countries. Serum neutralisation tests are also used for measuring the efficacy of oral rabies vaccination programmes conducted in wild carnivore populations. In this study we evaluated an OIElisted commercial ELISA as a potential replacement for serum neutralization assays under routine conditions as a diagnostic tool for both the serological testing of dog and cat sera as part of pet travel schemes and for follow-up investigations as part of oral vaccination campaigns. When dog and cat sera were analyzed by ELISA, a sensitivity compared to the standard serological test of 36.9-82.0% and 44.4-88.9%, respectively, was calculated depending on the method used. For fox field samples from oral vaccination areas the sensitivity compared to the Rapid Fluorescent Focus Inhibition Test (RFFIT) was 32.4% (95% CI 24.8-40.0%).In its present format, the ELISA cannot replace standard serological assays neither in the pet travel scheme nor in follow-up investigations of oral vaccination campaigns. The results obtained resemble those of other rabies ELISAs recently evaluated for the same purpose and may therefore exemplify a general misconception (binding versus neutralization) in rabies serology rather than a failure of this ELISA test per se. Also, problems with technical and legislative issues associated with the serological testing of dog and cat sera for non-commercial movement and related to the outcome of this study are addressed.

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Knoop, E.V. / Freuling, Conrad Martin / Kliemt, Jeannette / et al: Evaluation of a commercial rabies ELISA as a replacement for serum neutralization assays as part of the pet travel scheme and oral vaccination campaigns of foxes. 2010.

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