Parasite survey on a captive wolf population using classical techniques and ELISA coproantigen detection, USA
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As laws change around the United States, wildlife that were once kept as companion animals are now often confiscated by local authorities. They are then euthanized unless a home is found for them at a sanctuary. Wolf sanctuaries are, therefore, becoming increasingly important for their conservation and management. However, little data is available on best practices for the health management of captive wolves, including data on parasitic diseases. Our objective was to assess the prevalence of parasites of captive wolves combining classical coprological techniques and immunoassays based on the detection of coproantigen of selected canid parasites. Fecal samples of 39 animals were collected upon observation of individual animals defecating. All samples were processed using the Fecal Dx® tests, a suite of coproantigen ELISAs for detection of ascarid, hookworm, whipworm, and Giardia (IDEXX Laboratories Inc.). Out of the 39 samples, 38 were processed using the double-centrifugation sugar flotation (DCSF) and 34 using a modification of the Baermann technique. Twenty-eight samples (71.8%) were positive for hookworm, and none positive for the other parasites tested using coproantigen ELISA. Ancylostoma sp. (26, 68.4%), Eucoleus boehmi (13, 34.2%), and Trichuris sp. (2; 5.3%), and Sarcocystis sp. (13, 34.2%) were detected using DCSF. No metastrongyloid lungworm larvae were found. The Cohen's kappa index (0.97) showed excellent agreement between the hookworm coproantigen ELISA and the DCSF using feces preserved in ethanol for a short period of time. This study provides a baseline on the parasites of captive wolves, and shows that recent innovative diagnostics in veterinary parasitology, developed and optimized for dogs, may be used for assessing the health of wolves.
author list (cited authors)
Balinsky, D. L., Paras, K. L., Hanna, R., Elsemore, D. A., & Verocai, G. G.