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Validation of laboratory tests for infectious diseases in wild mammals: Review and recommendations

June 1, 2020

Evaluation of the diagnostic sensitivity (DSe) and specificity (DSp) of tests for infectious diseases in wild animals is challenging, and some of the limitations may affect compliance with the OIE-recommended test validation pathway. We conducted a methodologic review of test validation studies for OIE-listed diseases in wild mammals published between 2008 and 2017 and focused on study design, statistical analysis, and reporting of results. Most published papers addressed Mycobacterium bovis infection in one or more wildlife species. Our review revealed limitations or missing information about sampled animals, identification criteria for positive and negative samples (case definition), representativeness of source and target populations, and species in the study, as well as information identifying animals sampled for calculations of DSe and DSp as naturally infected captive, free-ranging, or experimentally challenged animals. The deficiencies may have reflected omissions in reporting rather than design flaws, although lack of random sampling might have induced bias in estimates of DSe and DSp. We used case studies of validation of tests for hemorrhagic diseases in deer and white-nose syndrome in hibernating bats to demonstrate approaches for validation when new pathogen serotypes or genotypes are detected and diagnostic algorithms are changed, and how purposes of tests evolve together with the evolution of the pathogen after identification. We describe potential benefits of experimental challenge studies for obtaining DSe and DSp estimates, methods to maintain sample integrity, and Bayesian latent class models for statistical analysis. We make recommendations for improvements in future studies of detection test accuracy in wild mammals.

Publication Year 2020
Title Validation of laboratory tests for infectious diseases in wild mammals: Review and recommendations
DOI 10.1177/1040638720920346
Authors Jia Beibei, David Colling, David E. Stallknecht, David S. Blehert, John Bingham, Beate Crossley, Debbie Eagles, Ian A Gardner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Index ID 70210492
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center