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      International External Quality Assessment of Molecular Detection of Rift Valley Fever Virus

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          Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral zoonosis that primarily affects animals resulting in considerable economic losses due to death and abortions among infected livestock. RVF also affects humans with clinical symptoms ranging from an influenza-like illness to a hemorrhagic fever. Over the past years, RVF virus (RVFV) has caused severe outbreaks in livestock and humans throughout Africa and regions of the world previously regarded as free of the virus. This situation prompts the need to evaluate the diagnostic capacity and performance of laboratories worldwide. Diagnostic methods for RVFV detection include virus isolation, antigen and antibody detection methods, and nucleic acid amplification techniques. Molecular methods such as reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and other newly developed techniques allow for a rapid and accurate detection of RVFV. This study aims to assess the efficiency and accurateness of RVFV molecular diagnostic methods used by expert laboratories worldwide. Thirty expert laboratories from 16 countries received a panel of 14 samples which included RVFV preparations representing several genetic lineages, a specificity control and negative controls. In this study we present the results of the first international external quality assessment (EQA) for the molecular diagnosis of RVF. Optimal results were reported by 64% of the analyses, 21% of the analyses achieved acceptable results and 15% of the results revealed that there is need for improvement. Evenly good performances were achieved by specific protocols which can therefore be recommended as an accurate molecular protocol for the diagnosis of RVF. Other protocols showed uneven performances revealing the need for improved optimization and standardization of these protocols.

          Author Summary

          Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a zoonotic viral disease posing an increasing threat to animals and humans worldwide. Recent severe outbreaks of the disease in animal and human populations in endemic regions and outside the disease's traditional geographic boundaries necessitate the need for evaluating the diagnostic performance of RVF expert laboratories. Molecular methods are increasingly used for a rapid and accurate detection of viral nucleic acid. In this study we present the results of the first international external quality assessment (EQA) for the molecular diagnosis of RVF. Such EQA studies allow participating laboratories to monitor the quality and identify possible weaknesses of current diagnostic methods. Participants to this RVF EQA were 30 expert laboratories from 16 different countries worldwide. The study demonstrated that optimal results could be achieved by the majority of laboratories. Specific protocols showed evenly good performances and can therefore be recommended to all expert laboratories. However, other methods showed uneven performances suggesting the need for improved optimization and standardization of these protocols.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Rapid detection and quantification of RNA of Ebola and Marburg viruses, Lassa virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, Rift Valley fever virus, dengue virus, and yellow fever virus by real-time reverse transcription-PCR.

          Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are acute infections with high case fatality rates. Important VHF agents are Ebola and Marburg viruses (MBGV/EBOV), Lassa virus (LASV), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV), Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), dengue virus (DENV), and yellow fever virus (YFV). VHFs are clinically difficult to diagnose and to distinguish; a rapid and reliable laboratory diagnosis is required in suspected cases. We have established six one-step, real-time reverse transcription-PCR assays for these pathogens based on the Superscript reverse transcriptase-Platinum Taq polymerase enzyme mixture. Novel primers and/or 5'-nuclease detection probes were designed for RVFV, DENV, YFV, and CCHFV by using the latest DNA database entries. PCR products were detected in real time on a LightCycler instrument by using 5'-nuclease technology (RVFV, DENV, and YFV) or SybrGreen dye intercalation (MBGV/EBOV, LASV, and CCHFV). The inhibitory effect of SybrGreen on reverse transcription was overcome by initial immobilization of the dye in the reaction capillaries. Universal cycling conditions for SybrGreen and 5'-nuclease probe detection were established. Thus, up to three assays could be performed in parallel, facilitating rapid testing for several pathogens. All assays were thoroughly optimized and validated in terms of analytical sensitivity by using in vitro-transcribed RNA. The >or=95% detection limits as determined by probit regression analysis ranged from 1,545 to 2,835 viral genome equivalents/ml of serum (8.6 to 16 RNA copies per assay). The suitability of the assays was exemplified by detection and quantification of viral RNA in serum samples of VHF patients.
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            Rift Valley fever epidemic in Saudi Arabia: epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory characteristics.

            This cohort descriptive study summarizes the epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory characteristics of the Rift Valley fever (RVF) epidemic that occurred in Saudi Arabia from 26 August 2000 through 22 September 2001. A total of 886 cases were reported. Of 834 reported cases for which laboratory results were available, 81.9% were laboratory confirmed, of which 51.1% were positive for only RVF immunoglobulin M, 35.7% were positive for only RVF antigen, and 13.2% were positive for both. The mean age (+/- standard deviation) was 46.9+/-19.4 years, and the ratio of male to female patients was 4:1. Clinical and laboratory features included fever (92.6% of patients), nausea (59.4%), vomiting (52.6%), abdominal pain (38.0%), diarrhea (22.1%), jaundice (18.1%), neurological manifestations (17.1%), hemorrhagic manifestations (7.1%), vision loss or scotomas (1.5%), elevated liver enzyme levels (98%), elevated lactate dehydrogenase level (60.2%), thrombocytopenia (38.4%), leukopenia (39.7%), renal impairment or failure (27.8%), elevated creatine kinase level (27.3%), and severe anemia (15.1%). The mortality rate was 13.9%. Bleeding, neurological manifestations, and jaundice were independently associated with a high mortality rate. Patients with leukopenia had significantly a lower mortality rate than did those with a normal or high leukocyte count (2.3% vs. 27.9%; odds ratio, 0.09; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.63).
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              Complete genome analysis of 33 ecologically and biologically diverse Rift Valley fever virus strains reveals widespread virus movement and low genetic diversity due to recent common ancestry.

              Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus is a mosquito-borne RNA virus responsible for large explosive outbreaks of acute febrile disease in humans and livestock in Africa with significant mortality and economic impact. The successful high-throughput generation of the complete genome sequence was achieved for 33 diverse RVF virus strains collected from throughout Africa and Saudi Arabia from 1944 to 2000, including strains differing in pathogenicity in disease models. While several distinct virus genetic lineages were determined, which approximately correlate with geographic origin, multiple exceptions indicative of long-distance virus movement have been found. Virus strains isolated within an epidemic (e.g., Mauritania, 1987, or Egypt, 1977 to 1978) exhibit little diversity, while those in enzootic settings (e.g., 1970s Zimbabwe) can be highly diverse. In addition, the large Saudi Arabian RVF outbreak in 2000 appears to have involved virus introduction from East Africa, based on the close ancestral relationship of a 1998 East African virus. Virus genetic diversity was low (approximately 5%) and primarily involved accumulation of mutations at an average of 2.9 x 10(-4) substitutions/site/year, although some evidence of RNA segment reassortment was found. Bayesian analysis of current RVF virus genetic diversity places the most recent common ancestor of these viruses in the late 1800s, the colonial period in Africa, a time of dramatic changes in agricultural practices and introduction of nonindigenous livestock breeds. In addition to insights into the evolution and ecology of RVF virus, these genomic data also provide a foundation for the design of molecular detection assays and prototype vaccines useful in combating this important disease.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                May 2013
                23 May 2013
                : 7
                : 5
                [1 ]Robert Koch Institute, Centre for Biosafety, Berlin, Germany
                [2 ]Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, Sandringham, South Africa
                [3 ]Division Virology and Communicable Disease Surveillance, School of Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
                [4 ]Pasteur Institute, Paris, France
                University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States of America
                Author notes

                The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: CE AT ODM AG MB MN. Performed the experiments: PP AT AG ClR CE. Analyzed the data: CE ODM MN. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JTP AG ClR AT PP MN CE. Wrote the paper: CE.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 9
                The European Center for Disease prevention and Control (ENIVD/ECDC) for financial support under the contract no. ECDC/2008/011. Part of this work has been facilitated through the International Network for Capacity Building for the Control of Emerging Viral Vector Borne Zoonotic Diseases (Arbo-Zoonet) supported by the European Union under grant agreement no. 211757. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Viral Disease Diagnosis
                Applied Microbiology
                Emerging Infectious Diseases

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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