New Gene Test Speeds Diagnosis of Enterovirus D68
(HealthDay News) — Researchers have developed a genetic test to quickly detect enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). The researchers published details of the test's techniques online recently in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
More than 1,000 confirmed cases and 14 deaths nationwide were reported in the outbreak of EV-D68, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new test is effective at identifying various strains of the virus and speeds its detection, according to the team at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Previous tests for identifying enterovirus strains took several days to process, making their use impractical with large numbers of patients. The real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay takes a few hours and is more specific than commercial tests for enterovirus, the researchers said. "Commercial tests for respiratory viral infections typically don't distinguish between rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, and enteroviruses, and within each of those groups there are many different types. Having a tool to identify which cases of respiratory illness are actually EV-D68 is an advantage for public health," senior author Gregory Storch, MD, a professor of pediatrics, said in a university news release.
"The assay did not detect any other enteroviruses or rhinoviruses tested and did detect divergent strains of EV-D68, including the first EV-D68 strain (Fermon) identified in California in 1962," the authors write. "This assay should be useful for identifying and studying current and future outbreaks of EV-D68 viruses."