Application of Commercial Aspergillus Western Blot IgG® Kit and ELISA Assay for the Diagnosis of Aspergillosis in Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017

Guillaume Desoubeaux1,2,3, PharmD, PhD; Carolina Le-Bert4, DVM; Vanessa Fravel5, DVM; Tonya Clauss6, DVM; Alexa J. Delaune6, DVM; Jeny Soto1, BS; Risa Daniels4, MSMSci; Eric D. Jensen7, DVM; Celeste Parry4, MSMSci; Jennifer E. Flower8, DVM, MS, DACZM; Randall Wells9, PhD; Gregory D. Bossart1,6, DVM, PhD; Carolyn Cray1, PhD

1Division of Comparative Pathology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA; 2Service de Parasitologie-Mycologie-Médecine Tropicale, CHU de Tours, Tours, France; 3CEPR-INSERM U1100/Équipe 3, Faculté de Médecine, Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France; 4National Marine Mammal Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA; 5Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, CA, USA; 6Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA, USA; 7U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, San Diego, CA, USA; 8Mystic Aquarium, A Division of Sea Research Foundation Inc., Mystic, CT, USA; 9Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, c/o Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, FL, USA


The definitive diagnosis of aspergillosis is difficult in animals.1,2 Thus, new laboratory tools are necessary to overcome current diagnostic limitations of low specificity and lack of standardization. This study of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) evaluated the diagnostic performance of a new commercial immunoblot kit, the Aspergillus Western blot IgG® (LDBio Diagnostics, Lyon, France), that had been initially developed for the serologic diagnosis of chronic aspergillosis in humans.1 Intensity of four Aspergillus-specific bands were quantified using the kit. Results were compared with those obtained by a novel ELISA test, within an observation cohort of dolphins with proven or probable diagnosis of aspergillosis (n=32) and negative controls (n=55). Overall, the diagnostic performance of the commercial immunoblot and ELISA were strongly correlated (p<0.0001). The immunoblot showed lower sensitivity (65.6% versus 90.6%), but higher specificity (92.7% versus 69.1%), with no cross-reaction with miscellaneous non-Aspergillus fungal infections, while the ELISA appeared to cross-react with non-Aspergillus spp. When assessing their use in a validation cohort of 21 dolphins under human care and 32 free-ranging dolphins, the commercial immunoblot kit and the ELISA assay enabled positive diagnosis before mycological cultures in 42.9% and 33.3% of dolphins tested for suspicion of aspergillosis, respectively. There also was significant impact of antifungal treatment on the results of the two tests (p<0.05). In all, these new serologic methods show promise in aiding in the diagnosis of aspergillosis in dolphins, and illustrate the opportunity to adapt reagents directed for human diagnostics to detect similar changes in other animals.


The authors are grateful to LDBio Diagnostics for the valuable discussions about the analytical material.

Literature Cited

1.  Oliva A, Flori P, Hennequin C, Dubus JC, Reynaud-Gaubert M, Charpin D, Vergnon JM, Gay P, Colly A, Piarroux R, Pelloux H, Ranque S. Evaluation of the Aspergillus Western Blot IgG kit for diagnosis of chronic aspergillosis. J Clin Microbiol. 2015;53(1):248–254.

2.  Tell LA. Aspergillosis in mammals and birds: impact on veterinary medicine. Med Mycol. 2005;43(1):71–73.


Speaker Information
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Carolyn Cray, PhD
Division of Comparative Pathology
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Miller School of Medicine
University of Miami
Miami, FL, USA

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