Coproparasitological and purging methods for diagnosing canids infected with the intestinal helminth Echinococcus granulosus, an important zoonotic parasite, are unreliable. Detection of coproantigens in feces of infected dogs by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is suitable for detecting patent and prepatent infections with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. In the present study, natural and experimental infections in domestic and wild Australian canids were investigated using a coproantigen capture ELISA. Experimental infection of dogs with E. granulosus was detected at between 14 and 22 days postinfection (PI), and optical density (OD) values remained high until termination of experiments 35 days PI. After chemotherapy, coproantigen levels in infected dogs dropped rapidly, becoming negative 2–4 days after treatment. In experimentally infected red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), the coproantigen excretion profile was different, with ELISA OD levels peaking 15–17 days PI, then falling to low or undetectable levels by 30 days PI. Coproantigens were detected in the feces of naturally infected Australian wild dogs (dingoes, dingo/domestic dog hybrids) with infection levels ranging between 2 worms and 42,600. Preliminary data on the stability of coproantigen in dog feces exposed to environmental conditions indicated that there was no change in antigenicity over 6 days. The results suggest the coproantigen ELISA could be successfully used to monitor E. granulosus prevalence rates in Australian domestic dogs, foxes, and wild dogs.
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