Validation for use with coyotes (Canis latrans) of a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for Dirofilaria immitis

Benjamin Sacks, Bruno B Chomel, R. W. Kasten, C. C. Chang, R. K. Sanders, S. D. Leterme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Serological tests offer a potentially powerful tool for monitoring parasites in wildlife populations. However, such tests must be validated before using them with target wildlife populations. We evaluated in coyotes (Canis latrans) the performance of a commercially available serological test used to detect canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) in domestic dogs. We obtained 265 coyote carcasses and serological specimens from 54 additional coyotes from several regions of California, USA. We necropsied coyotes to determine the adult heartworm infection status. Blood was collected at necropsy on filter paper strips and allowed to dry; it was later eluted in a buffer solution, and the supernatant was tested for heartworm. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to assess discriminatory power of the test and indicated a 93% probability that a randomly selected infected coyote would exhibit a higher enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) value than a randomly selected uninfected coyote. We estimated specificity at 96% (95% CI: 92-98%) for 165 uninfected coyotes and sensitivity at 85% (77-91%) for 100 infected coyotes, results similar to published values for the commercial serological test used with dog serum or plasma. Test performance was similar for filter paper specimens and supernatant of frozen whole blood collected in EDTA tubes (i.e. hemolyzed plasma). We found no difference in test performance among geographic or demographic coyote groups. Our findings support application of the test to filter paper or standard serological specimens for detection of heartworm in coyote populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 16 2002


  • Canis latrans
  • Coyote
  • Dirofilaria immitis
  • ROC curve
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)


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