Prospective Evaluation of Commercial Antibody-Based Rapid Tests in Combination with a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification PCR Assay for Detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi during the Acute Phase of Scrub Typhus Infection
Blacksell SD., Paris DH., Chierakul W., Wuthiekanun V., Teeratakul A., Kantipong P., Day NPJ.
ABSTRACT Samples from 160 prospectively recruited febrile patients with typhus-like illness in an area of Thailand (Chiang Rai, northern Thailand) where scrub typhus is endemic were used to evaluate the diagnostic capabilities of four rapid immunochromatographic tests (ICTs) for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi IgM and total antibodies during acute scrub typhus infection. Of the 160 cases, 54 (34%) had been confirmed to have scrub typhus using the reference scrub typhus infection criteria (STIC), i.e., positive cell culture isolation, an admission IgM antibody titer of ≥1:12,800, a 4-fold rising IgM antibody titer, and/or positivity for ≥2 out of 3 PCR gene targets). The ICTs gave the following sensitivities and specificities: the Panbio IgM ICT, 46% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33 to 60) and 95% (95% CI, 89 to 98), respectively; the Standard Diagnostics IgM ICT, 68% (95% CI, 60 to 75) and 73% (95% CI, 68 to 78), respectively; the AccessBio IgM ICT, 56% (95% CI, 48 to 63) and 90% (95% CI, 87 to 94), respectively; and the AccessBio total antibody ABt ICT, 61% (95% CI, 53 to 68) and 68% (95% CI, 63 to 73), respectively. An isothermal loop amplification (LAMP) PCR assay for scrub typhus demonstrated a sensitivity of 52% (95% CI, 38 to 66) and a specificity of 94% (95% CI, 88 to 98). This study has revealed the diagnostic limitations of antibody-based assays in an acute care setting. However, the combination of ICTs with LAMP usually increased sensitivity with a minimal reduction in specificity. The best combination, the Panbio IgM ICT and LAMP, resulted in a sensitivity of 67% (95% CI, 53 to 79) and a specificity of 91% (95% CI, 83 to 95). The combination of antibody-based assays with DNA- or antigen-based tests shows promise for improved diagnostic sensitivity.