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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Evaluation of antibodies in cerebrospinal fluid for the diagnosis of tick-borne encephalitis in dogs

Alnefelt, Yvonne; Van Meervenne, Sofie; Varjonen, Katarina; Tidholm, Anna; Rohdin, Cecilia


Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is caused by the neurotropic tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). In dogs, this virus may affect the central nervous system (CNS), causing meningoencephalitis, meningomyelitis, radiculitis or any combination of these. Diagnosis of TBE relies on a combination of clinical signs of CNS disease and laboratory findings, including CSF pleocytosis and serum TBEV antibody titers. Exposure to TBEV does not necessarily cause clinical disease, and seroprevalence has been reported as high as 40% in endemic areas. This causes concerns of over-diagnosing TBE in dogs with CNS disease. By examining TBEV antibodies in dogs with and without neurological disease in a TBEV endemic area, this study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic value of TBEV antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in dogs. Eighty-nine dogs were included in the study, 56 with neurological disease and 33 neurologically normal control dogs. A positive TBEV CSF and serum IgG antibody titer (> 126 U/mL) was found in 3/89 dogs (3.4%). A positive serum TBEV antibody titer was found in 11 of the 89 dogs (12.4%). None of the control dogs showed a positive CSF antibody titer, whilst two showed positive serum concentrations. A positive CSF IgG antibody titer supports a clinical diagnosis of TBE in patients with acute onset of CNS disease and may help reduce the risk of over-diagnosis.


Canine; Meningoencephalitis; Meningoencephalomyelitis; Serology; Virus

Published in

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
2021, volume: 63, number: 1, article number: 32
Publisher: BMC

Authors' information

Alnefelt, Yvonne
Anicura Albano Small Anim Hosp
Van Meervenne, Sofie
Anicura Kalmar Small Anim Hosp
Varjonen, Katarina
Anicura Albano Small Anim Hosp
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Albano Animal Hospital
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Albano Animal Hospital

UKÄ Subject classification

Clinical Science

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