May 21, 2021 9:44:11 pm
A new point-of-care test has been found to be highly sensitive in the rapid diagnosis of Kyasanur forest disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever, which is an emerging public health problem in the country.
Developed by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, scientists said the use of such point-of-care tests would be beneficial for the diagnosis of KFD as the outbreaks mainly happen in remote areas, where there is lack of well-equipped sample handling and laboratory testing facilities.
The point-of-care test would be useful in quick patient management and controlling further spread of the virus, said Dr Pragya Yadav, head of department of maximum containment facility, ICMR-NIV, and one of the researchers in the study.
While the study has been approved for use in International Journal of Infectious Diseases, a pre-proof has been published online recently. ICMR-NIV, Pune, collaborated with Molbio Diagnostics Pvt Ltd, Goa, which has developed the microchip-based TruenatTM KFD Point of Care Test (PoCT).
The point-of-care test includes a battery-operated PCR analyser, which is a portable, lightweight and universal cartridge-based sample pre-treatment kit and nucleic acid extraction device that aid in sample processing at the point of care.
“In the present study, we have evaluated the microchip-based TruenatTM KFD Point of Care Test for the rapid diagnosis of KFD,” Dr Yadav said. The study involved 145 clinical specimens, including human serum, monkey necropsy tissues and tick pool specimens to validate TruenatTM KFD PoCT for diagnosis of KFD.
The PoCT was found to be highly sensitive, specific with a limit of detection of up to 10 copies of KFD viral RNA, the study found. Results on screening of human, monkey and tick specimens demonstrated 100 per cent concordant with the compared assays.
This disease was first identified in Kyasanur forest of Shimoga district in Karnataka during an investigation of monkey mortalities in 1957. The disease is caused by a Kyasanur Forest disease virus, which primarily affects humans and monkeys. In nature, the virus is maintained mainly in hard ticks, monkeys, rodents and birds and transmitted via the bite of Haemaphysalis ticks and contact with carcasses of dead monkeys.
The disease is characterised by chills, frontal headache, body ache, and high fever for five to 12 days with a case fatality rate of 3 to 5 per cent. Since its identification in 1957 and up to 2012, sporadic cases and several outbreaks of KFD have been reported every year, especially in five districts of Karnataka with average cases of about 400 to 500 per year. After 2012, the presence of KFD has also been reported from adjoining states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra. Eventually, KFD emerged as a grave public health problem spreading through the entire Western Ghats.
Diagnosis of suspected cases was entirely dependent on conventional techniques, which were laborious and time consuming, delaying timely diagnosis and increased disease burden. Quick and reliable molecular diagnostic tests were developed by NIV, but these tests required well-equipped lab facilities and trained staff available in limited numbers earlier.
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