Early diagnosis of dengue in travelers: comparison of a novel real-time RT-PCR, NS1 antigen detection and serology

Eili Huhtamo, Essi Hasu, Nathalie Y Uzcátegui, Elina Erra, Simo Nikkari, Anu Kantele, Olli Vapalahti, Heli Piiparinen
Journal of Clinical Virology 2010, 47 (1): 49-53

BACKGROUND: The increased traveling to dengue endemic regions and the numerous epidemics have led to a rise in imported dengue. The laboratory diagnosis of acute dengue requires several types of tests and often paired samples are needed for obtaining reliable results. Although several diagnostic methods are available, proper comparative data on their performance are lacking.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the performance of novel methods including a novel pan-DENV real-time RT-PCR and a commercially available NS1 capture-EIA in regard to IgM detection for optimizing the early diagnosis of DENV in travelers.

STUDY DESIGN: A panel of 99 selected early phase serum samples of dengue patients was studied by real-time RT-PCR, NS1 antigen ELISA, IgM-EIA, IgG-IFA and cell culture virus isolation.

RESULTS: The novel real-time RT-PCR was shown specific and sensitive for detection of DENV-1-4 RNA and suitable for diagnostic use. The diagnostic rate using combination of RNA and IgM detection was 99% and using NS1 and IgM detection 95.9%. The results of RNA and NS1 antigen detection disagreed in 15.5% of samples that had only RNA or NS1 antigen detected.

CONCLUSIONS: The diagnostic rates of early samples are higher when either RNA or NS1 antigen detection is combined with IgM detection. Besides the differences in the RNA and NS1 detection assays, the observed discrepancy of results could suggest individual variation or differences in timing of these markers in patient serum.

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