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Bayesian evaluation of temporal changes in sensitivity and specificity of three serological tests for multiple circulating strains of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus
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  • Kandarp K. Patel,
  • Nils Toft,
  • John Kovaliski,
  • Bradley Page,
  • Ridma M.J. Jayasinghe Ellakkala Appuhamilage,
  • Patrick Taggart
Kandarp K. Patel
Primary Industries and Regions of South Australia

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Nils Toft
Geocenter Danmark
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John Kovaliski
no affiliation
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Bradley Page
Primary Industries and Regions of South Australia
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Ridma M.J. Jayasinghe Ellakkala Appuhamilage
Primary Industries and Regions of South Australia
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Patrick Taggart
The University of Adelaide School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
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Competition and indirect ELISAs are currently being used to monitor rabbit hemorrhagic disease viruses (RHDV1 and RHDV2) in rabbits worldwide. Temporal changes in the sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Sp) of assays were investigated using Bayesian Latent Class models (BCLM) in the Australian wild rabbit population where both viruses circulate simultaneously and a long-term serological dataset exists. When cELISA1 was compared to IgG1 ELISA, the Se of cELISA1 improved while the Sp of IgG1 ELISA declined over the 2011-2021. This corresponded with a decline in the true RHDV1 prevalence in 2018-21, suggesting that a large proportion of RHDV1 exposed rabbits survived the introduction and dominance of RHDV2 up to approximately 2017/2018, after which they died and were not replaced. The Se and Sp estimates for 2014-15 for both cELISA1 and IgG1 ELISA, and the true prevalence when analysing all three tests together were similar to those obtained from the analysis of cELISA1/IgG1. The same was also true for the Se and Sp of cELISA2 and IgG1 estimates from 2018 onwards. This suggests that RHDV1 was the dominant infection status in 2014-15, but RHDV2 was the dominant infection status in 2018-2021. Further, the increase in Se of cELISA2 and the low Sp of IgG1 ELISA in the cELISA2/IgG1 ELISA analysis, compared to the Se of cELISA2 and Sp of IgG1 ELISA when analysing all three tests together suggests that the underlying infection status was more influenced by RHDV2 and that the higher Se of IgG1 ELISA is due to cross-reaction of RHDV2 antibodies on IgG1 ELISA. The true prevalence data suggests that RHDV2 exposure peaked in 2017. Our findings show that test characteristics changed in response to the changing virus prevalences over time. IgG1 ELISA currently has a high Se, should be used to monitor both viruses and will perform better than both cELISAs.