Assessing the potential cross-reactivity using a commercial heartworm ELISA kits of serum from dogs naturally infected with Onchocerca lupi. Academic Article uri icon


  • Onchocerca lupi is an emerging zoonotic parasite of dogs, endemic to the southwestern USA and areas of the Old World. Currently, there are no specific serological diagnostic tests able to detect O. lupi infection. Recent literature has demonstrated that commercially available heartworm antigen tests, despite being highly sensitive, may cross-react with infections by other filarid nematodes. There is no information on potential cross-reactivity of such tests in serum of dogs infected with O. lupi. Our objective was to assess serum samples of dogs naturally-infected with O. lupi for potential cross-reactivity before and after heat-treatment using a commercial heartworm ELISA kit. We obtained serum from 23 dogs naturally-infected with O. lupi. These dogs presented with ocular disease, and were consulted to schedule either surgical removal of ocular nodules due to infection or enucleation. Samples were tested in triplicate using the DiroCHEK Heartworm Antigen Test kit (Synbiotics Corporation, Zoetis, Kalamazoo, MI, USA) following the manufacturers' protocol pre- and post-heat-treatment. Samples were heat-treated using a dry heat block at 103C for 10min and then centrifuged at 1818g for 20min. Out of a total of 23 dogs, 19 (82.6 %) had no antigen detected regardless of heat-treatment, three dogs tested positive before and after heat-treatment, and a single dog turned positive after heat-treatment. These three dogs that were positive before and after heat-treatment were confirmedly co-infected with Dirofilaria immitis by the veterinarians responsible for these cases, and we were unable to get the history or follow up with the dog that turned positive post-heat-treatment only. Our data suggest that O. lupi infections should not result in false-positives when using the DiroCHEK in dog serum, before or after heat-treatment. Dogs with clinical ocular onchocercosis that test antigen-positive in DiroCHEK are likely co-infected with D. immitis, and should be further tested, including evaluation of microfilariae in blood and diagnostic imaging. If heartworm infection is confirmed, the animals should be enrolled in the recommended treatment protocol in accordance to the guidelines of the American Heartworm Society or other local organizations.

published proceedings

  • Vet Parasitol

altmetric score

  • 5.7

author list (cited authors)

  • de Oliveira, C. S., Savadelis, M. D., McLean, N. J., & Verocai, G. G.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • de Oliveira, Caroline Sobotyk||Savadelis, Molly D||McLean, Nancy Johnstone||Verocai, Guilherme G

publication date

  • April 2020