During a serosurvey of domestic dogs in Tanzania, a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT) and a liquid-phase blocking ELISA (LPBE) were used to measure rabies antibodies in vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs. Post-vaccination titres measured by LPBE correlated closely with those found by RFFIT. Of 567 unvaccinated dogs tested using the LPBE, 42 (7·4%) were seropositive, with titres exceeding 32. Of this group, 233 dogs were tested using the RFFIT and 115 (49·4%) were seropositive, with titres exceeding 0·5 IU/ml. Two lines of evidence pointed to the greater specificity of the LPBE when measuring rabies antibodies induced by natural infections: (a) no seropositive dogs were detected among the 162 unvaccinated dogs from the rabies-free island of Pemba, Tanzania, when using LPBE, whereas 15/145 (10·3%) dogs of the same group were seropositive using RFFIT; (b) among Tanzanian dogs there was a close association between the location of rabies cases and location of seropositive dogs when using LPBE, but not when using RFFIT. These results suggest that LPBE may be of value in rabies seroepidemiological studies and could be developed as a reference technique for the detection of rabies antibody in domestic dogs.
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