JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Serological analysis of SARS Coronavirus in children diagnosed clinically as severe acute respiratory syndrome cases during SARS epidemic in Beijing]

Lin-qing Zhao, Yuan Qian, Ru-nan Zhu, Jie Deng, Fang Wang, Hui-zhong Chen, Li Cao, Tian-you Wang, Ting Zhang
Zhonghua Er Ke za Zhi. Chinese Journal of Pediatrics 2006, 44 (4): 262-6
16780645

OBJECTIVE: To identify the etiologic agents from children who had been clinically diagnosed as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) during the epidemic in Beijing and to characterize the transmissibility of SARS from those children to others.

METHODS: One hundred and seventy-seven serum specimens were collected during the period of June to August, 2003 from children and adults who had been clinically diagnosed as SARS and who closely contacted with those diagnosed as SARS during SARS epidemic in Beijing. Serum specimens were also collected from 49 children from Anhui province which was non-epidemic region and 93 healthy kindergarten children without history of contacting with SARS patients in Beijing during SARS epidemic. Serum specimens collected from 90 healthy kindergarten children in Beijing in September 2002 were included in the study. All the 409 serum specimens were tested for specific antibodies against SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) by different methods including ELISA for specific IgM and IgG, whole antibodies against SARS-CoV, IFA for specific IgM and IgG against SARS-CoV, and Western-blot for IgG to expressed N protein from SARS-CoV.

RESULTS: The positive rates of specific IgG and whole antibodies against SARS-CoV ranged from 39.1% to 43.5% in the children who had been clinically diagnosed as SARS, zero in children and 6.0% to 9.0% in adults who had closely contacted with the clinically diagnosed SARS children. Among those clinically diagnosed SARS adult patients, the positive rates of specific IgG and whole antibodies against SARS-CoV were 57.1% to 71.4%. In children and adults who closely contacted with these clinically diagnosed SARS adult patients, the positive rates of specific IgG and whole antibodies against SARS-CoV were 0 to 9.7% and 4.4% to 7.1%, respectively. None of the serum specimens collected from healthy children before and during epidemic in Beijing and children from non-epidemic region was positive when IFA methods and ELISA with Beier kits were used for detection, but some were positive when ELISA with the diagnostic kit from other source was applied.

CONCLUSION: The positive rates of specific IgG and whole antibodies against SARS-CoV in children who had been clinically diagnosed as SARS were around 40%, which is much lower than the positive rate in clinically diagnosed adult SARS patients, indicating that a large proportion of those "SARS" children were infected with respiratory viruses other than SARS-CoV during SARS epidemic in Beijing. Some of the children who closely contacted with children and adults SARS patients showed positive SARS-CoV antibodies, suggesting that asymptomatic infections may occur. The value of some approved diagnostic kit at least in children for SARS etiological diagnosis needs to be analyzed further.

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