MadSci Network: Microbiology

Re: What professional performs lab tests for diseases like Dengue?

Date: Tue Mar 24 09:36:03 2009
Posted By: Dean Cliver, Faculty, Food Safety Unit, Uiversity of California, Davis
Area of science: Microbiology
ID: 1236884312.Mi

Dengue is a virus disease carried by certain species of mosquitoes. The
disease is characterized by a high fever, many severe aches, and sometimes
a rash. Some infected people show few or no symptoms; but in others, the
disease may progress to a more severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever,
which can be fatal. 
When a doctor sees a typical case, dengue may be suspected, but laboratory
confirmation is needed. A sample of the patient�s blood may be tested for
the virus, or for antibody that the patient has produced against the virus.
Samples taken during the first five days of illness can be tested for the
presence of the virus by a system called polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
PCR testing for viruses and other agents is now widely used for diagnostic
and other purposes:  special equipment and training are needed.  
Samples taken later are tested only for antibody. The antibody test may be
performed with a commercial kit by a county, state, or commercial
laboratory. The kits vary in sensitivity and typically cannot tell the
difference between the four types of dengue viruses or two other, related
viruses � West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses.  
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dengue Branch is in
San Juan, Puerto Rico. A URL with more information is

Dean O. Cliver

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