Objective To estimate the frequency of serum antibodies (IgG and IgM) to canine coronavirus (CCV) in the Australian dog population and evaluate the role of CCV as a causative agent of gastroenteritis.
Design A serological survey of antibodies to CCV among different dog populations.
Procedure The development and characterisation of an indirect ELISA for the detection of antibodies (IgG and IgM) to CCV was undertaken. Sera collected from both diarrhoeal and non-diarrhoeal dogs from various populations throughout Australia were tested for these antibodies to CCV.
Results Serum samples (1396) collected from 1984 to 1998 were tested for the presence of IgG antibodies to CCV. Samples were divided into two categories on the basis of the number of dogs housed together. The groups were either an open population containing dogs housed as groups of three or less, or kennel populations. Sera from 15.8% of the open population and 40.8% of kennelled dogs were positive for CCV antibodies. The prevalence of antibodies varied from zero to 76% in kennelled dogs. About 23% of 128 dogs positive for IgG antibodies to CCV were also positive for IgM antibodies to CCV, indicating recent CCV infection. Of those dogs that were presented with clinical signs of gastroenteritis such as diarrhoea and vomiting(n = 29), 85% were positive in the IgM ELISA and 85.7% in the IgG ELISA for antibodies to CCV. In comparison, for those dogs presented without any history of gastroenteritis only 15% were positive for IgM and 30% positive for IgG.
Conclusion Serological evidence indicates that infection with CCV in dogs is widespread throughout the Australian mainland. The prevalence of antibodies varies greatly among different populations, with an average of 40.8% positive in kennelled populations and 15.8% in the open population.