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Evaluation of the performance of five diagnostic tests for Fasciola hepatica infection in naturally infected cattle using a Bayesian no gold standard approach

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    Rights statement: © 2016 Mazeri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0161621
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Early online date26 Aug 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Aug 2016


The clinical and economic importance of fasciolosis has been recognised for centuries, yet diagnostic tests available for cattle are far from perfect. Test evaluation has mainly been carried out using gold standard approaches or under experimental settings, the limitations of which are well known. In this study, a Bayesian no gold standard approach was used to estimate the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of five tests for fasciolosis in cattle. These included detailed liver necropsy including gall bladder egg count, faecal egg counting, a commercially available copro-antigen ELISA, an in-house serum excretory/secretory antibody ELISA and routine abattoir liver inspection. In total 619 cattle slaughtered at one of Scotland's biggest abattoirs were sampled, during three sampling periods spanning summer 2013, winter 2014 and autumn 2014. Test sensitivities and specificities were estimated using an extension of the Hui Walter no gold standard model, where estimates were allowed to vary between seasons if tests were a priori believed to perform differently for any reason. The results of this analysis provide novel information on the performance of these tests in a naturally infected cattle population and at different times of the year where different levels of acute or chronic infection are expected. Accurate estimates of sensitivity and specificity will allow for routine abattoir liver inspection to be used as a tool for monitoring the epidemiology of F. hepatica as well as evaluating herd health planning. Furthermore, the results provide evidence to suggest that the copro-antigen ELISA does not cross-react with Calicophoron daubneyi rumen fluke parasites, while the serum antibody ELISA does.

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