Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #306657

Title: Serological diagnosis of Besnoitia bennetti infection in donkeys

item NESS, SALLY - Cornell University
item SCHARES, GEREON - Wusterhausen
item PETERS-KENNEDY, JEANE - Cornell University
item MITTEL, LINDA - Cornell University
item Dubey, Jitender
item BOWMAN, DWIGHT - Cornell University
item MOHAMMED, HUSSNI - Cornell University
item DRIVERS, THOMAS - Cornell University

Submitted to: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/16/2014
Publication Date: 11/26/2014
Publication URL: http://doi: 10.1177/1040638714550180
Citation: Ness, S., Schares, G., Peters-Kennedy, J., Mittel, L., Dubey, J.P., Bowman, D., Mohammed, H., Drivers, T. 2014. Serological diagnosis of Besnoitia bennetti infection in donkeys. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 26(6):778-782.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasmosis caused by the single celled parasite,Toxoplasma gondii continues to be a public health problem. Serological and immunological diangnosis of toxoplasmosis is sometimes hampered by cross reactivity with related coccidian parasites. Besnoitia is a parasite related to Toxoplasma and antibodies to Besnoitia cross react with Toxoplasma in immunohistochemical tests. Here authors tested the value of western blots against Besnoitia antigens in the diagnosis of clinical besnoitiosis in donkeys and found that that this test can aid in diagnosis of subclinical infections. These results will be of interest to veterinarians, parasitologists and biologists.

Technical Abstract: Besnoitiosis is an emerging infectious disease of donkeys in the United States for which there are currently no serologic methods of diagnosis. A study was performed to evaluate physical examination findings and three serologic assays for the detection of B. bennetti infection in donkeys. A prospective study of 416 donkeys in 6 privately-owned herds across 5 states (New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Oregon, Washington) was performed. Donkeys were examined for clinical lesions suggestive of besnoitiosis and evaluated for antibodies against B. bennetti using an immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT) and 2 immunoblot assays specific for bradyzoite and tachyzoite antigens, respectively. Donkeys were confirmed to be infected with B. bennetti by histopathology (cases; n=32) and were compared to those with no clinical signs of besnoitiosis (controls; n=384). Identifying clinical lesions in 2 or more locations correctly identified infected donkeys 83% of the time. Donkeys with besnoitiosis had significantly higher IFAT titers (P<.001) and numbers of bradyzoite (P<.001) and tachyzoite (P<.001) immunoblot bands than control donkeys. The sensitivity and specificity of the serologic assays for detecting besnoitiosis was 88% and 96% for IFAT, 81% and 91% for bradyzoite immunoblot, and 91% and 92% for tachyzoite immunoblot, respectively. Immunofluorescent antibody and immunoblot assays are effective at identifying donkeys with besnoitiosis and provide a more efficient and less invasive diagnostic alternative to histopathology.