Although lentiviruses similar to feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are known to infect numerous felid species, the relative utility of assays used for detecting lentiviral infection has not been compared for many of these hosts. We tested bobcats (Lynx rufus), pumas (Felis concolor), and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) for exposure to lentivirus using five different assays: puma lentivirus (PLV), African lion lentivirus (LLV), and domestic cat FIV-based immunoblots, a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit, and nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Puma lentivirus immunoblots identified more seropositive individuals than the other antibody-detection assays. The commercial ELISA provided a fair ability to recognize seropositive samples when compared with PLV immunoblot for screening bobcats and ocelots, but not pumas. Polymerase chain reaction identified fewer positive samples than PLV immunoblot for all three species. Immunoblot results were equivalent whether the sample tested was serum, plasma, or whole blood. The results from this study and previous investigations suggest that the PLV immunoblot has the greatest ability to detect reactive samples when screening wild felids of North America and is unlikely to produce false positive results. However, the commercial ELISA kit may provide an adequate alternative for screening of some species and is more easily adapted to field conditions.
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Vol. 43 • No. 4