Can in-shelter antibody tests protect dogs from parvo and distemper?

Can animal shelters protect the dogs in their care from illness and euthanasia even if they’ve been exposed to canine parvovirus (CPV) or canine distemper (CDV)?

Dogs who have already been immunized for those diseases, or who recovered from them naturally in the past, are in almost all cases immune to them if later exposed. For that reason, a method to determine immune status in exposed dogs could save their lives by preventing shelter euthanasia of all exposed dogs. Additionally, knowing what animals are at risk of disease can allow shelters to make better population separation, intake, foster care, and adoption decisions.

In a study conducted by Lauren Gray, Maddie’s® Researcher, Class of 2013, under the guidance of Dr. Cynda Crawford, the effectiveness of two different tests for the presence of antibodies against canine parvovirus and canine distemper virus were compared. The tests were a semiquantitative ELISA and an immunofluorescence assay (IFA).The study was conducted on blood samples obtained from 431 dogs admitted to Alachua County Animal Services.

The researchers concluded:

The ELISA had fewer false-positive results than did the IFA and could be performed on-site in shelters in < 1 hour. Accuracy and practicality of the ELISA may be useful for identifying the infection risk of dogs exposed during outbreaks attributable to CPV and CDV infections in shelters.

More information, including a link to read or purchase the complete study, can be found at Antibody Detection for Parvovirus and Distemper Virus.