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J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Nov;39(11):4093-6.

Rapid detection of enterovirus RNA in cerebrospinal fluid specimens with a novel single-tube real-time reverse transcription-PCR assay.

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Center for Molecular Diagnostics, OCMW Hospitals, Antwerp, Belgium.


A single-tube real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assay for enterovirus detection in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was developed based on a fluorogenic probe and primers directed to highly conserved sequences in the 5' untranslated region of the enterovirus genome. Quantitative detection of enterovirus genome was demonstrated in a linear range spanning at least 5 logs. Endpoint titration experiments revealed that the in-tube detection limit of the assay was 11.8 enterovirus genome equivalents (95% detection rate) corresponding in our current extraction protocol to 592 enterovirus genome equivalents per ml of CSF. Twenty CSF specimens not suspected of viral meningitis were all found to be negative, and no cross-reactivity with herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2, varicella-zoster virus, rhinovirus type 53, and influenza viruses A and B was observed. Nineteen CSF specimens from 70 patients suspected of viral meningitis were determined to be positive by PCR (27.1%), whereas only 17 were found to be positive by viral culture (24.3%). The sensitivity of the assay was 100% and the specificity was 96.2% compared to viral culture. Data from the real-time RT-PCR assay were available within 4 h. Our data suggest that the novel real-time RT-PCR assay may offer a reliable but significantly faster alternative to viral culture. Owing to the elimination of postamplification detection steps, its conduct required considerably less hands-on time and was associated with a substantially reduced carryover risk compared to previously described PCR-based enterovirus detection assays.

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