Serological surveys for disease investigation of wild animal populations require obtaining blood samples for analysis, which has logistic, ethic and economic difficulties. Applying serological test to fluids collected from dead animals is an alternative. The aim of this study was to assess if antibodies could be detected in two types of fluids collected from 56 carcasses of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes): pleural fluid and lung extract.
In 22 (39%) foxes antibodies against Sarcoptes scabiei were detected in both fluid types by ELISA and Western blot. In 46 (82%) foxes, antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii were detected in pleural fluid and in 41 (73%) in lung extract applying a Toxo-screen test (DAT). Antibodies were still detectable in the same fluids kept at room temperature for 28 days, although in fewer foxes (16 and 14 foxes tested for T. gondii in lung extract and pleural fluid respectively; and 1 and 4 tested for S. scabiei in lung extract and pleural fluid respectively.
These results indicate the potential utility of using fluids from carcasses for antibody screening of wild animals at the population level.