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Diagnosis of scrub typhus in Malaysian aborigines using nested polymerase chain reaction.

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Bacteriology Division, Institute for Medical Research, Jalan Pahang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


A rapid diagnostic system for scrub typhus using nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was applied to clinical samples from Malaysian Aborigines. Whole blood from twenty-four patients suspected of scrub typhus infection were tested using nested polymerase chain reaction and sera were evaluated by the indirect immunoperoxidase test. Antibody responses towards Rickettsia tsutsugamushi were observed in seventeen patients with the majority having high titers of IgG antibodies. Seven patients were seronegative. The nested PCR amplified R. tsutsugamushi DNA from six patients, of which two were negative serologically and four had high titers of IgG antibodies. Second samples collected seven days after treatment were negative by PCR testing. Nested PCR is highly sensitive and specific and may be used to provide rapid confirmation of scrub typhus cases in endemic region.

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