Background: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is caused by Leishmania infantum in Mediterranean basin and is an endemic disease in some parts of Iran. Canines are the main reservoirs of VL in most of the endemic areas. Different serological methods have been introduced for diagnosis of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL).
Objective: In this survey a Fucose-Mannose Ligand (FML) ELISA, using native L. infantum antigen, was developed and its validity for detection of infected dogs in comparison with direct agglutination test (DAT) and PCR was evaluated.
Methods: Blood samples of sixty ownership dogs (≤ 3 years old) were collected from Meshkin-shahr district in Ardabil province, North-west of Iran. Sera were separated for serological assays (DAT and FMLELISA) and the buffy coats were collected for molecular evaluation.
Results: Two out of the 60 (3.33%) samples were found to be positive (antibody titer of ≥ 1/320) in DAT while seven of the 60 (11.66%) samples were positive by FML-ELISA. Nine out of 60 (15%) buffy coat samples showed a band about 680 bp indicative of L. infantum in PCR. Three out of 60 dogs had Kala-azar symptoms and were positive by PCR and FML-ELISA, while two of these three dogs had antibody titers >1/320 in their serum samples. The sensitivity and specificity of FML-ELISA for the detection of CVL in both symptomatic and asymptomatic dogs were found to be 77.8% and 100%, respectively.
Conclusion: Considering the acceptable sensitivity and high specificity of FMLELISA, use of this serological method can be recommended for epidemiological surveys of CVL.