Novel screening test can detect 20 intestinal parasites


First PCR test for parasites affecting cats and dogs relies on molecular technology.

A new molecular diagnostic test from Antech Diagnostics may be veterinary medicine’s most sensitive for intestinal parasites affecting cats and dogs. The KeyScreen GI Parasite PCR can detect 20 parasites from a single storable 0.15-gram sample.

In an announcement made during the North American Veterinary Community Veterinary Meeting and Expo in Orlando, Florida, Antech noted the test will be available in the spring of 2022. The company’s molecular technology is supported by 10 testing locations across North America with next-day test results. According to Antech, advanced parasite screening is practical for routine wellness exams.

Parasites are increasing, migrating, and mutating, and zoonotic diseases are on the rise, and treatment-resistant hookworms are an emerging threat to canine health. However, today’s parasitic infection challenges outpaced the capabilities of existing screening tests, which are neither sensitive nor comprehensive enough to detect the breadth of parasites that are of significant concern to pet health according to Antech. Parasites that can be detected by the KeyScreen GI Parasite PCR test include anthelmintic drug-resistant hookworm and zoonotic Giardia.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us—with vivid clarity—how human and animal health are interconnected, the danger and speed of mutations, and the critical need for sensitive, fast, affordable diagnostic testing,” said Christian M. Leutenegger, Dr. Med.Vet., BSc, PhD, FVH, director of molecular diagnostics, research, and development at Antech and inventor of the KeyScreen GI Parasite PCR test, in a company press release.

“Molecular testing is a sophisticated new tool with numerous advantages, including an exquisite ability to have a lens into the DNA of a parasite. I like to say that ‘molecular testing can tell you what color eyes the parasite has.’ Current and unrecognized threats demand this level of precision to ensure animal and human well-being,” Leutenegger continued.

According to a company press release, KeyScreen GI Parasite PCR offers several novel capabilities that support practice efficiency, rapid, cost-effective detection of more disease and a new, higher standard of care for parasite screening. These capabilities include the following:

Find more disease. Treat appropriately—KeyScreen offers the only method to differentiate tapeworms, detect Toxoplasma and identify roundworm strains, whipworms, protozoa and coccidia. Facilitating a new level of precision medicine, the test allows veterinarians to deliver the right treatment to pets the first time, helping them regain health faster and eliminating repeat visits.

Detect treatment-resistant hookworm—Hookworms are one of the most prevalent intestinal parasites affecting dogs, and prevalence is rising dramatically. They are also zoonotic. Although there are several available treatments, intensive overuse has created high levels of anthelmintic resistance and multiple drug resistance (MDR). KeyScreen not only detects hookworm, it also automatically checks for the genetic resistance marker, delivering vital information to inform effective treatment.

Determine zoonotic potential of Giardia—Although the risk of contracting disease from pets remains low, there are critical advantages to knowing if a pet is infected with a zoonotic assemblage. Of the 7 known Giardia assemblages, 2 have the potential to be zoonotic. KeyScreen automatically checks for the assemblages that may threaten human health, giving veterinarians specific information to make informed treatment decisions as well as counsel or reassure pet owners about potential risks to older adults, children, and immunocompromised individuals.

Freedom from “fecals” and other cost and efficiency gains—KeyScreen requires a very small sample that can be stored refrigerated for up to 10 days. It finds the most parasites the first time using a single test, automatically checking for zoonotic assemblages and resistance markers, eliminating the time and resource strain of repeat pet owner visits. Molecular testing can also eliminate the resources required to process and analyze in-clinic ova and parasite testing.

Uphold One Health priorities—As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, awareness of veterinarians’ role as One Health stewards has never been greater. Molecular diagnostics allow veterinarians to strengthen their commitment to One Health priorities, specifically pharmacological stewardship, and the responsible use of anthelmintic drugs, by delivering precise information about the type of infection present. Using the most sensitive intestinal parasite screening panel, veterinarians can make treatment decisions with confidence while educating pet owners about the responsible use of therapy.

“We don’t know what we don’t know, and there’s much to learn about parasites that could impact animal and human health now and in the future. While we are aware of emerging issues like treatment-resistant hookworm infections, there could be latent risks from parasites that we once believed to be insignificant,” said Leutenegger, in the release.

The development of the KeyScreen GI Parasite PCR test represents 2 decades of foundational research by Antech. This test sets a new standard of care in veterinary medicine, according to a company press release.


Antech introduces veterinary medicine’s most advanced parasite screening test. News release. January 17, 2020. Accessed January 17, 2022.

Recent Videos
Managing practice caseloads
Nontraditional jobs for veterinary technicians
Angela Elia, BS, LVT, CVT, VTS (ECC)
Honey bee
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.