Serological diagnosis of dengue
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A reliable and specific diagnosis is imperative in viral diagnosis, both for clinical management and surveillance, and to ensure that early treatment and control measures are carried out. The number of days of illness is important to choose the most appropriate method to be used and for the correct interpretation of the results obtained. Specific IgM is elicited after that period, indicating an active infection and usually lasts up to 3 months. However, in DENV secondary infections, IgM levels may be significantly lower or undetectable. After 10–12 days, a lifetime specific IgG is produced. Routinely, the laboratory diagnosis of DENV infections can be performed by viral isolation and/or detection of viral nucleic acid, serological assays for the detection of specific antibodies (IgM/IgG), antigen (NS1) and the detection of viral antigens in tissues, which are suitable during certain phases of the disease. For serological diagnosis, serum, plasma, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples may be investigated. If the test is carried out a few days after collection, the specimens can be stored at 4 °C, since the immunoglobulins are stable in serum or plasma. If the storage period is extended, the material must be kept at −20 °C or −70 °C. In serology, several methods can be used to detect specific viral antigens and/or antibodies, produced by the host in response to DENV infection. Routinely, serological tests include the hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay, the plaque reduction neutralizing test (PRNT), the gold standard assay for dengue immune response characterization, and ELISAs to detect IgM (MAC-ELISA) and IgG (IgG-ELISA).
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