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J Vet Diagn Invest. 1997 Apr;9(2):130-5.

Development and evaluation of a recombinant antigen, monoclonal antibody-based competitive ELISA for heartwater serodiagnosis.

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National Veterinary Services Laboratories, US Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA 50010, USA.


Cowdria ruminantium is the etiologic agent of heartwater, a tick-transmitted foreign animal disease with considerable potential for entrance into the USA. A competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) was developed to detect serologic responses to C. ruminantium infection. The cELISA utilized a recombinant form of the C. ruminantium major antigenic protein (MAP-1) as the antigen and an anti-MAP-1 monoclonal antibody as the competing indicator reagent. Experimental antisera to C. ruminantium and a wide variety of related ehrlichial organisms were used to evaluate cELISA reactivity. Only sera against C. ruminantium, Ehrlichia canis, E. chaffeensis, and a recently discovered cervine ehrlichia-like organism reacted positively in the cELISA. Specificity of the cELISA was > or = 99.5% in a survey of 1,774 southeastern US and Puerto Rican slaughter cattle sera but was only 85% in a group of 79 hunter-killed white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from the southeastern USA. Reference true-positive and cELISA false-positive sera were further analyzed by end point titrations using the cELISA and by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) tests for reactivity with C. ruminantium, E. canis, and E. chaffeensis antigens. True heartwater-positive sera were significantly more reactive using the cELISA and C. ruminantium IFA procedures (P < 0.05), whereas false-positive sera were significantly more reactive with the antigens used in the E. chaffeensis IFA procedure (P < 0.05). A group of sera from 210 field-origin ruminants residing on known or potentially heartwater-endemic Caribbean islands revealed a substantial (12.4%) prevalence of cELISA-positive specimens. The cELISA is a relatively specific serodiagnostic test for heartwater in cattle and could be used to monitor for possible introduction of the disease into the USA. The cELISA may also be an excellent tool for monitoring the success of an ongoing Caribbean Amblyomma tick eradication program designed to eliminate the biological vector responsible for the perpetuation and spread of this dangerous foreign animal disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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