Public Health Resources


Date of this Version



Journal of Clinical Virology 63 (2015) 25–31


U.S. Government Work


Background: AFRIMS longitudinal dengue surveillance in Thailand depends on the nested RT-PCR and the dengue IgM/IgG ELISA.

Objective: To examine and improve the sensitivity of the nested RT-PCR using a panel of archived samples collected during dengue surveillance.

Study design: A retrospective analysis of 16,454 dengue IgM/IgG ELISA positive cases collected between 2000 and 2013 was done to investigate the sensitivity of the nested RT-PCR. From these cases, 318 acute serum specimens or extracted RNA, previously found to be negative by the nested RT-PCR, were tested using TaqMan real-time RT-PCR (TaqMan rRT-PCR). To improve the sensitivity of nested RT-PCR, we designed a new primer based on nucleotide sequences from contemporary strains found to be positive by the TaqMan rRT-PCR. Sensitivity of the new nested PCR was calculated using a panel of 87 samples collected during 2011–2013.

Results and conclusion: The percentage of dengue IgM/IgG ELISA positive cases that were negative by the nested RT-PCR varied from 17% to 42% for all serotypes depending on the year. Using TaqMan rRT-PCR, dengue RNA was detected in 194 (61%) of the 318 acute sera or extracted RNA previously found to be negative by the nested RT-PCR. The newly designed DENV-1 specific primer increased the sensitivity of DENV-1 detection by the nested RT-PCR from 48% to 88%, and of all 4 serotypes from 73% to 87%. These findings demonstrate the impact of genetic diversity and signal erosion on the sensitivity of PCR-based methods.