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Serum antibody response to Cryptococcus neoformans in cats, dogs and koalas with and without active infection


R. MALIK,* B. R. SPEED,† J. KALDOR,† B. CAIRNS,† M. PEGORER,† D. I. WIGNEY‡ & D. N. LOVE‡


*Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006

†Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Fairfield Hospital, Yarra Bend Road, Fairfield, Victoria 3078

‡Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia

 

ABSTRACT
Anti-cryptococcal antibodies were measured in normal cats, dogs, horses and koalas, and cats, dogs and koalas with cryptococcosis using an enzyme immunoassay. Antibody levels were expressed as absorbance readings. Over 80% of cats and dogs with cryptococcal infection had elevated antibody levels at the time of diagnosis, during or after successful therapy. Antibody levels in these patients either remained elevated or declined slowly after treatment. For cats, anti-cryptococcal antibody levels were higher in C. neoformans var. gattii than var. neoformans infections, and lower in mild than in moderate or severe infections. The persistence of increased anti-cryptococcal antibody levels in over half of the feline and canine cases following active infection suggested the use of antibody determinations as a seroepidemiologic marker of previous infection. Consequently, antibody measurements from ‘normal’ animals indicated a prevalence of previous cryptococcal infection of 10% in cats and dogs, compared with 3% in horses and 5% in koalas. Preliminary studies of young animals suggested that anti-cryptococcal antibody levels were substantially lower in the young cats but not the young dogs surveyed, compared with their mature counterparts. The cut-offs used in the present work may thus be erroneously high, with a corresponding underestimation of the prevalence of inapparent cryptococcosis.

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