Instructor, Medicine - Infectious Diseases
Leptospirosis is a potentially severe illness in returned travelers. Patients often present with fever, headache, and neck pain, which may lead to a workup for meningitis including the acquisition of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Although Leptospira DNA has been detected in CSF by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), little data exist regarding the utility of testing CSF in addition to serum or plasma obtained on presentation. In this report, we present two cases of leptospirosis in returned travelers presenting with fever and headache. Our first patient had neutrophilic meningitis, and Leptospira was detectable only in CSF obtained on admission. The second patient had a normal CSF profile, but Leptospira was detected in CSF at a bacterial load 5- to 10-fold higher than that in plasma. CSF is an important specimen for the diagnosis of Leptospira by molecular methods and may yield an actionable diagnosis in the absence of leptospiremia.
View details for DOI 10.4269/ajtmh.15-0174
View details for PubMedID 26033024
The diagnosis of encephalitis is particularly challenging in immunocompromised patients. We report here a case of fatal West Nile Virus encephalitis confounded by the presence of budding yeast in the CSF in a patient who had undergone heart transplantation for dilated cardiomyopathy 11 months prior to presentation of neurologic symptoms.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00834-15
View details for Web of Science ID 000358290200055
View details for PubMedID 25994169
Preemptive antiviral therapy relies on viral load measurements and is the mainstay of cytomegalovirus (CMV) prevention in hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) recipients. However, optimal CMV levels for the initiation of preemptive therapy have not been defined.The objectives of our work were to evaluate the relationship between plasma CMV DNA levels at initiation of preemptive therapy with time to resolution of viremia and duration of treatment.Retrospective analysis of HCT recipients undergoing serial CMV PCR testing between June 2011 and June 2014 was performed.221 HCT recipients underwent preemptive therapy for 305 episodes of CMV viremia. Median time to resolution was shorter when treatment was initiated at lower CMV levels (15 days at 135-440 international units (IU)/mL, 18 days at 441-1000IU/mL, and 21 days at >1000IU/mL, P<.001). Prolonged viremia lasting >30 days occurred less frequently when treatment was initiated at 135-440IU/mL compared to 441-1000IU/mL and >1000IU/mL (1%, 15%, 24%, P<.001). Median treatment duration was also shorter in the lower viral load groups (28, 34, 37 days, P<.001).Initiation of preemptive therapy at low CMV levels was associated with shorter episodes of viremia and courses of antiviral therapy. These data support the utility of initiating preemptive CMV therapy at viral loads as low as 135IU/mL in HCT recipients.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jcv.2015.06.006
View details for Web of Science ID 000358318400037
In the last decade, chikungunya virus has emerged from an obscure arbovirus that caused limited outbreaks of disease in Africa and Asia to the cause of a pandemic affecting millions of people and spanning five continents. Two separate chikungunya virus genotypes have been responsible for outbreaks during this period, including strains adapted to transmission in Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Further spread of this virus into new regions of the Western Hemisphere is predicted during the present rainy season in the tropics, and recurrent viral introductions and disease outbreaks, as occurred in Réunion in 2010, should be expected. Chikungunya virus no longer simply threatens; it has arrived as a significant, global pathogen.
View details for DOI 10.1586/14787210.2015.995634
View details for PubMedID 25537007
Dengue virus (DENV) transmission occurs throughout the Caribbean, though laboratory confirmation and epidemiologic surveillance are limited by the availability of serotype-specific molecular diagnostics. In this study, we show that a serotype-specific DENV multiplex, real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR) detected DENV RNA in significantly more samples (82/182) than a reference hemi-nested RT-PCR (57/182; P=0.01).
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2014.10.001
View details for Web of Science ID 000348491500007
Reference diagnostic tests for leptospirosis include nucleic acid amplification tests, bacterial culture, and microscopic agglutination testing (MAT) of acute and convalescent serum. However, clinical laboratories often do not receive paired specimens. In the current study, we tested serum samples using a highly sensitive real-time nucleic acid amplification test for Leptospira and compared results to MAT performed on the same specimens.478 serum samples from suspected leptospirosis cases in Rio de Janeiro were tested using a real-time RT-PCR for the diagnosis of leptospirosis, malaria and dengue (the Lepto-MD assay). The Lepto-MD assay detects all species of Leptospira (saprophytic, intermediate, and pathogenic), and in the current study, we demonstrate that this assay amplifies both Leptospira RNA and DNA. Dengue virus RNA was identified in 10 patients, and no cases of malaria were detected. A total of 65 samples (13.6%) were positive for Leptospira: 35 samples (7.3%) in the Lepto-MD assay, 33 samples (6.9%) by MAT, and 3 samples tested positive by both (kappa statistic 0.02). Poor agreement between methods was consistent regardless of the titer used to define positive MAT results or the day of disease at sample collection. Leptospira nucleic acids were detected in the Lepto-MD assay as late as day 22, and cycle threshold values did not differ based on the day of disease. When Lepto-MD assay results were added to the MAT results for all patients in 2008 (n=818), the number of detected leptospirosis cases increased by 30.4%, from 102 (12.5%) to 133 (16.3%).This study demonstrates a lack of agreement between nucleic acid detection of Leptospira and single-specimen MAT, which may result from the clearance of bacteremia coinciding with the appearance of agglutinating antibodies. A combined testing strategy for acute leptospirosis, including molecular and serologic testing, appears necessary to maximize case detection.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0132988
View details for PubMedID 26177295
Febrile travelers from countries with unique endemic pathogens pose a significant diagnostic challenge. In this report, we describe the case of a Tongan man presenting with fever, rash, and altered mental status. The diagnosis of Chikungunya encephalitis was made using a laboratory-developed real-time RT-PCR and serologic testing.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01288-14
View details for Web of Science ID 000341359300055
Dengue, leptospirosis, and malaria are among the most common etiologies of systemic undifferentiated febrile illness (UFI) among travelers to the developing world, and these pathogens all have the potential to cause life-threatening illness in returned travelers. The current study describes the development of an internally controlled multiplex nucleic acid amplification test for the detection of dengue virus (DENV) and Leptospira and Plasmodium species, with a specific callout for Plasmodium falciparum (referred to as the UFI assay). During analytical evaluation, the UFI assay displayed a wide dynamic range and a sensitive limit of detection for each target, including all four DENV serotypes. In a clinical evaluation including 210 previously tested samples, the sensitivities of the UFI assay were 98% for DENV (58/59 samples detected) and 100% for Leptospira and malaria (65/65 and 20/20 samples, respectively). Malaria samples included all five Plasmodium species known to cause human disease. The specificity of the UFI assay was 100% when evaluated with a panel of 66 negative clinical samples. Furthermore, no amplification was observed when extracted nucleic acids from related pathogens were tested. Compared with whole-blood samples, the UFI assay remained positive for Plasmodium in 11 plasma samples from patients with malaria (parasitemia levels of 0.0037 to 3.4%). The syndrome-based design of the UFI assay, combined with the sensitivities of the component tests, represents a significant improvement over the individual diagnostic tests available for these pathogens.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00341-14
View details for Web of Science ID 000337919500028
Testing for cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA is increasingly being used for specimen types other than plasma or whole blood. However, few studies have investigated the performance of different nucleic acid extraction protocols in such specimens. In this study, CMV extraction using the Cell-free 1000 and Pathogen Complex 400 protocols on the QIAsymphony Sample Processing (SP) system were compared using bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL), tissue samples, and urine. The QIAsymphonyAssay Set-up (AS) system was used to assemble reactions using artus CMV PCR reagents and amplification was carried out on the Rotor-Gene Q. Samples from 93 patients previously tested for CMV DNA and negative samples spiked with CMV AD-169 were used to evaluate assay performance. The Pathogen Complex 400 protocol yielded the following results: BAL, sensitivity 100% (33/33), specificity 87% (20/23); tissue, sensitivity 100% (25/25), specificity 100% (20/20); urine, sensitivity 100% (21/21), specificity 100% (20/20). Cell-free 1000 extraction gave comparable results for BAL and tissue, however, for urine, the sensitivity was 86% (18/21) and specimen quantitation was inaccurate. Comparative studies of different extraction protocols and DNA detection methods in body fluids and tissues are needed, as assays optimized for blood or plasma will not necessarily perform well on other specimen types.
View details for DOI 10.7717/peerj.334
View details for PubMedID 24765569
Bacteria of the genus Leptospira, the causative agents of leptospirosis, are categorized into pathogenic and non-pathogenic species. However, the benefit of using a clinical diagnostic that is specific for pathogenic species remains unclear. In this study, we present the development of a real-time PCR (rtPCR) for the detection of pathogenic Leptospira (the pathogenic rtPCR), and we perform a comparison of the pathogenic rtPCR with a published assay that detects all Leptospira species [the undifferentiated febrile illness (UFI) assay] and a reference 16S Leptospira rtPCR, which was originally designed to detect pathogenic species.For the pathogenic rtPCR, a new hydrolysis probe was designed for use with primers from the UFI assay, which targets the 16S gene. The pathogenic rtPCR detected Leptospira DNA in 37/37 cultured isolates from 5 pathogenic and one intermediate species. Two strains of the non-pathogenic L. biflexa produced no signal. Clinical samples from 65 patients with suspected leptospirosis were then tested using the pathogenic rtPCR and a reference Leptospira 16S rtPCR. All 65 samples had tested positive for Leptospira using the UFI assay; 62 (95.4%) samples tested positive using the pathogenic rtPCR (p = 0.24). Only 24 (36.9%) samples tested positive in the reference 16S rtPCR (p<0.0001 for comparison with the pathogenic rtPCR and UFI assays). Amplicon sequencing confirmed the detection of pathogenic Leptospira species in 49/50 cases, including 3 cases that were only detected using the UFI assay.The pathogenic rtPCR displayed similar sensitivity to the UFI assay when testing clinical specimens with no difference in specificity. Both assays proved significantly more sensitive than a real-time molecular test used for comparison. Future studies are needed to investigate the clinical and epidemiologic significance of more sensitive Leptospira detection using these tests.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0112356
View details for PubMedID 25379890
Antiviral therapy for cytomegalovirus (CMV) plays an important role in the clinical management of solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. However, CMV antiviral therapy can be complicated by drug resistance associated with mutations in the phosphotransferase UL97 and the DNA polymerase UL54. We have developed an amplicon-based high-throughput sequencing strategy for detecting CMV drug resistance mutations in clinical plasma specimens using a microfluidics PCR platform for multiplexed library preparation and a benchtop next-generation sequencing instrument. Plasmid clones of the UL97 and UL54 genes were used to demonstrate the low overall empirical error rate of the assay (0.189%) and to develop a statistical algorithm for identifying authentic low-abundance variants. The ability of the assay to detect resistance mutations was tested with mixes of wild-type and mutant plasmids, as well as clinical CMV isolates and plasma samples that were known to contain mutations that confer resistance. Finally, 48 clinical plasma specimens with a range of viral loads (394 to 2,191,011 copies/ml plasma) were sequenced using multiplexing of up to 24 specimens per run. This led to the identification of seven resistance mutations, three of which were present in <20% of the sequenced population. Thus, this assay offers more sensitive detection of minor variants and a higher multiplexing capacity than current methods for the genotypic detection of CMV drug resistance mutations.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01605-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000325812200035
View details for PubMedID 23985916
Emerging viral pathogens include newly discovered viruses as well as previously known viruses that are either increasing, or threatening to increase in incidence. While often first identified in the general population, they may affect transplant recipients, in whom their manifestations may be atypical or more severe. Enhanced molecular methods have increased the rate of viral discovery but have not overcome the problem of demonstrating pathogenicity. At the same time, improved clinical diagnostic methods have increased the detection of re-emerging viruses in immunocompromised patients. In this review, we first discuss viral diagnostics and the developing field of viral discovery and then focus on rare and emerging viruses in the transplant population: HTLV-1; HEV; bocavirus; KI and WU polyomaviruses; coronaviruses HKU1 and NL63; influenza, H1N1; measles; dengue; rabies; and LCMV. Detection and reporting of such rare pathogens in transplant recipients is critical to patient care and improving our understanding of post-transplant infections.
View details for DOI 10.1093/cid/cit456
View details for Web of Science ID 000325168100022
Dengue virus (DENV) is the agent of the most common vector-borne disease worldwide. Using 199 clinical samples collected from Nicaragua and Sri Lanka, a laboratory-developed DENV multiplex real-time reverse transcription-PCR (rRT-PCR) proved more clinically sensitive than the FDA-approved CDC assay for DENV serotypes 1 to 4 when measured against a composite reference standard, with sensitivities of 97.4% versus 87.1%, respectively.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01359-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000324624300039
View details for PubMedID 23903549
A number of diagnostic tests are available for dengue virus (DENV) detection, including a variety of nucleic-acid amplification tests (NAATs). However, reports describing the direct comparison of different NAATs are limited. In this study, we report the design of an internally-controlled, real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) that detects all four DENV serotypes but does not distinguish between them (the pan-DENV assay). Two-hundred clinical samples were then tested using four different DENV RT-PCR assays: the pan-DENV assay; a commercially-produced, internally-controlled DENV rRT-PCR (the Altona assay); a widely-used hemi-nested RT-PCR; and a serotype-specific, multiplex rRT-PCR assay. The pan-DENV assay had a linear range extending from 7.0 to 1.0 log10 complimentary DNA (cDNA) equivalents/μL and a lower limit of 95% detection ranging from 1.7 to 7.6 cDNA equivalents/μL depending on the serotype. When measured against a composite reference standard, the pan-DENV assay proved more clinically sensitive than either the Altona or hemi-nested assays, with a sensitivity of 98.0% compared to 72.3% and 78.8%, respectively (p≤0.0001 for both comparisons). The pan-DENV assay detected DENV in significantly more samples collected on or after day five of illness and in a subgroup of patients with detectable anti-DENV IgM at presentation. No significant difference in sensitivity was observed between the pan-DENV assay and the multiplex rRT-PCR, despite the presence of an internal control in the former. The detection of DENV RNA late in the course of clinical illness should serve to lengthen the period during which a confirmed, molecular diagnosis of DENV infection can be provided.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00548-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000320595800024
View details for PubMedID 23637298
Dengue fever results from infection with one or more of four different serotypes of dengue virus (DENV). Despite the widespread nature of this infection, available molecular diagnostics have significant limitations. The aim of this study was to develop a multiplex, real-time, reverse transcriptase-PCR (rRT-PCR) for the detection, quantitation, and serotyping of dengue viruses in a single reaction.An rRT-PCR assay targeting the 5' untranslated region and capsid gene of the DENV genome was designed using molecular beacons to provide serotype specificity. Using reference DENV strains, the assay was linear from 7.0 to 1.0 log₁₀ cDNA equivalents/µL for each serotype. The lower limit of detection using genomic RNA was 0.3, 13.8, 0.8, and 12.4 cDNA equivalents/µL for serotypes 1-4, respectively, which was 6- to 275-fold more analytically sensitive than a widely used hemi-nested RT-PCR. Using samples from Nicaragua collected within the first five days of illness, the multiplex rRT-PCR was positive in 100% (69/69) of specimens that were positive by the hemi-nested assay, with full serotype agreement. Furthermore, the multiplex rRT-PCR detected DENV RNA in 97.2% (35/36) of specimens from Sri Lanka positive for anti-DENV IgM antibodies compared to just 44.4% (16/36) by the hemi-nested RT-PCR. No amplification was observed in 80 clinical samples sent for routine quantitative hepatitis C virus testing or when genomic RNA from other flaviviruses was tested.This single-reaction, quantitative, multiplex rRT-PCR for DENV serotyping demonstrates superior analytical and clinical performance, as well as simpler workflow compared to the hemi-nested RT-PCR reference. In particular, this multiplex rRT-PCR detects viral RNA and provides serotype information in specimens collected more than five days after fever onset and from patients who had already developed anti-DENV IgM antibodies. The implementation of this assay in dengue-endemic areas has the potential to improve both dengue diagnosis and epidemiologic surveillance.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002116
View details for PubMedID 23638191
Influenza infections are associated with thousands of hospital admissions and deaths each year. Rapid detection of influenza is important for prompt initiation of antiviral therapy and appropriate patient triage. In this study the Cepheid Xpert Flu assay was compared with two rapid antigen tests, BinaxNOW Influenza A & B and BD Directigen EZ Flu A+B, as well as direct fluorescent antibody testing for the rapid detection of influenza A and B. Using real-time, hydrolysis probe-based, reverse transcriptase PCR as the reference method, influenza A sensitivity was 97.3% for Xpert Flu, 95.9% for direct fluorescent antibody testing, 62.2% for BinaxNOW, and 71.6% for BD Directigen. Influenza B sensitivity was 100% for Xpert Flu and direct fluorescent antibody testing, 54.5% for BinaxNOW, and 48.5% for BD Directigen. Specificity for influenza A was 100% for Xpert Flu, BinaxNOW, and BD Directigen, and 99.2% for direct fluorescent antibody testing. All methods demonstrated 100% specificity for influenza B. These findings support the use of the Xpert Flu assay in settings requiring urgent diagnosis of influenza A and B.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jviromet.2012.07.023
View details for Web of Science ID 000312763600024
View details for PubMedID 22841669
The clinical significance of the detection of low copy numbers of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in immune-suppressed patients remains unclear. In this study, we compared the artus CMV Rotor-Gene PCR, utilizing an automated nucleic acid extraction and assay setup (the artus CMV protocol), with the COBAS Amplicor CMV Monitor test (our reference protocol). We then analyzed the results of all CMV PCR tests ordered following the implementation of the artus CMV protocol at our institution and followed 91 adult patients with positive test results. The artus CMV protocol had a linear range extending from 2.0 to 7.0 log(10) copies/ml and had a lower limit of 95% detection of 57 copies/ml. With archived plasma samples, this protocol demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 94% specificity for the detection of CMV DNA. Following implementation of the artus CMV protocol, 320 of 1,403 (22.8%) plasma samples tested positive (compared with 323/3,579 [9.0%] samples in the preceding 6 months), and 227 (16.2%) samples had copy numbers of <400/ml. Ninety-one adult patients had at least one positive test. The data were analyzed using a threshold of 200 copies/ml, and in 22 episodes, the viral load increased from <200 copies/ml to ? 200 copies/ml on sequential tests. In 21 of these 22 episodes, either the viral load continued to increase or antiviral treatment was initiated in response to the repeat value. In summary, we evaluate the performance characteristics of a protocol utilizing the artus CMV PCR and identify clinically meaningful changes in CMV DNA copy numbers even when they are initially detected at a low level.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.06800-11
View details for Web of Science ID 000307360800033
View details for PubMedID 22518866