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Concept: ELISPOT


Zika virus is a flavivirus transmitted primarily by Aedes species mosquitoes, and symptoms of infection can include rash, fever, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis (1).* Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe brain defects (2). Infection has also been associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome (3). In December 2015, Puerto Rico became the first U.S. jurisdiction to report local transmission of Zika virus, with the index patient reporting symptom onset on November 23, 2015 (4). This report provides an update to the epidemiology of and public health response to ongoing Zika virus transmission in Puerto Rico. During November 1, 2015-April 14, 2016, a total of 6,157 specimens from suspected Zika virus-infected patients were evaluated by the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) and CDC Dengue Branch (which is located in San Juan, Puerto Rico), and 683 (11%) had laboratory evidence of current or recent Zika virus infection by one or more tests: reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or immunoglobulin M (IgM) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Zika virus-infected patients resided in 50 (64%) of 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. Median age was 34 years (range = 35 days-89 years). The most frequently reported signs and symptoms were rash (74%), myalgia (68%), headache (63%), fever (63%), and arthralgia (63%). There were 65 (10%) symptomatic pregnant women who tested positive by RT-PCR or IgM ELISA. A total of 17 (2%) patients required hospitalization, including 5 (1%) patients with suspected Guillain-Barré syndrome. One (<1%) patient died after developing severe thrombocytopenia. The public health response to the outbreak has included increased laboratory capacity to test for Zika virus infection (including blood donor screening), implementation of enhanced surveillance systems, and prevention activities focused on pregnant women. Vector control activities include indoor and outdoor residual spraying and reduction of mosquito breeding environments focused around pregnant women's homes. Residents of and travelers to Puerto Rico should continue to employ mosquito bite avoidance behaviors, take precautions to reduce the risk for sexual transmission (5), and seek medical care for any acute illness with rash or fever.

Concepts: Antibody, Epidemiology, Mosquito, ELISA, ELISPOT, Aedes, Dengue fever, Eva Engvall


A routine investigation by the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) identified a nonpregnant woman in her twenties who reported she had engaged in a single event of condomless vaginal intercourse with a male partner the day she returned to NYC (day 0) from travel to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission. She had headache and abdominal cramping while in the airport awaiting return to NYC. The following day (day 1) she developed fever, fatigue, a maculopapular rash, myalgia, arthralgia, back pain, swelling of the extremities, and numbness and tingling in her hands and feet. In addition, on day 1, the woman began menses that she described as heavier than usual. On day 3 she visited her primary care provider who obtained blood and urine specimens. Zika virus RNA was detected in both serum and urine by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) performed at the DOHMH Public Health Laboratory using a test based on an assay developed at CDC (1). The results of serum testing for anti-Zika virus immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody performed by the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center laboratory was negative using the CDC Zika IgM antibody capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Zika MAC-ELISA) (2).

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Immunology, Influenza, ELISA, ELISPOT, New York City, New York


A novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based on magnetic nanoparticles and biotin/streptavidin-HRP (MNP-bsELISA) was developed for rapid and sensitive detection of zearalenone (ZEN). The detection signal was enhanced and the sensitivity of the assay was improved by combined use of antibody-conjugated magnetic nanoparticles and biotin-streptavidin system. Under the optimized conditions, the regression equation for quantification of ZEN was y = -0.4287x + 0.3132 (R² = 0.9904). The working range was 0.07-2.41 ng/mL. The detection limit was 0.04 ng/mL and IC50 was 0.37 ng/mL. The recovery rates of intra-assay and inter-assay ranged from 92.8%-111.9% and 91.7%-114.5%, respectively, in spiked corn samples. Coefficients of variation were less than 10% in both cases. Parallel analysis of cereal and feed samples showed good correlation between MNP-bsELISA and liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry (R² = 0.9283). We conclude that this method is suitable for rapid detection of zearalenone in cereal and feed samples in relevant laboratories.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Nanotechnology, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Immunoassay, Magnetic nanoparticles, Magnetic immunoassay


CDC has updated its interim guidance for U.S. health care providers caring for pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure, to include the emerging data indicating that Zika virus RNA can be detected for prolonged periods in some pregnant women. To increase the proportion of pregnant women with Zika virus infection who receive a definitive diagnosis, CDC recommends expanding real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) testing. Possible exposures to Zika virus include travel to or residence in an area with active Zika virus transmission, or sex* with a partner who has traveled to or resides in an area with active Zika virus transmission without using condoms or other barrier methods to prevent infection.(†) Testing recommendations for pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure who report clinical illness consistent with Zika virus disease(§) (symptomatic pregnant women) are the same, regardless of their level of exposure (i.e., women with ongoing risk for possible exposure, including residence in or frequent travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission, as well as women living in areas without Zika virus transmission who travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission, or have unprotected sex with a partner who traveled to or resides in an area with active Zika virus transmission). Symptomatic pregnant women who are evaluated <2 weeks after symptom onset should receive serum and urine Zika virus rRT-PCR testing. Symptomatic pregnant women who are evaluated 2-12 weeks after symptom onset should first receive a Zika virus immunoglobulin (IgM) antibody test; if the IgM antibody test result is positive or equivocal, serum and urine rRT-PCR testing should be performed. Testing recommendations for pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure who do not report clinical illness consistent with Zika virus disease (asymptomatic pregnant women) differ based on the circumstances of possible exposure. For asymptomatic pregnant women who live in areas without active Zika virus transmission and who are evaluated <2 weeks after last possible exposure, rRT-PCR testing should be performed. If the rRT-PCR result is negative, a Zika virus IgM antibody test should be performed 2-12 weeks after the exposure. Asymptomatic pregnant women who do not live in an area with active Zika virus transmission, who are first evaluated 2-12 weeks after their last possible exposure should first receive a Zika virus IgM antibody test; if the IgM antibody test result is positive or equivocal, serum and urine rRT-PCR should be performed. Asymptomatic pregnant women with ongoing risk for exposure to Zika virus should receive Zika virus IgM antibody testing as part of routine obstetric care during the first and second trimesters; immediate rRT-PCR testing should be performed when IgM antibody test results are positive or equivocal. This guidance also provides updated recommendations for the clinical management of pregnant women with confirmed or possible Zika virus infection. These recommendations will be updated when additional data become available.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Health care, Childbirth, Immunology, Obstetrics, ELISA, ELISPOT


On July 12, 2016, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) was notified by a clinician caring for an adult (patient A) who was evaluated for fever, rash, and conjunctivitis that began on July 1. Patient A had not traveled to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission; had not had sexual contact with a person who recently traveled; and had not received a blood transfusion, organ transplant, or mosquito bites (1). Patient A provided care over several days to an elderly male family contact (the index patient) who contracted Zika virus abroad. The index patient developed septic shock with multiple organ failure and died in the hospital on June 25, 2016. The index patient’s blood specimen obtained 2 days before his death had a level of viremia approximately 100,000 times higher than the average level reported in persons infected with Zika virus (2). Zika virus infection was diagnosed in patient A by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) testing on a urine specimen collected 7 days after symptom onset. In addition, a serum specimen collected 11 days after symptom onset, after patient A’s symptoms had resolved, was positive for antibodies to Zika virus by Zika immunoglobulin M (IgM) capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (MAC-ELISA) and had neutralizing antibodies detected by plaque-reduction neutralization testing (PRNT). Working with Salt Lake and Davis County Health Departments, UDOH requested assistance from CDC with an investigation to determine patient A’s exposures and determine a probable source of infection.

Concepts: AIDS, Immune system, Antibody, Blood, Immunology, ELISA, ELISPOT, Blood transfusion


Background The West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease has caused more than 8500 deaths. A vaccine could contribute to outbreak control in the region. We assessed a monovalent formulation of a chimpanzee adenovirus 3 (ChAd3)-vectored vaccine encoding the surface glycoprotein of Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), matched to the outbreak strain. Methods After expedited regulatory and ethics approvals, 60 healthy adult volunteers in Oxford, United Kingdom, received a single dose of the ChAd3 vaccine at one of three dose levels: 1×10(10) viral particles, 2.5×10(10) viral particles, and 5×10(10) viral particles (with 20 participants per group). Safety was assessed over the next 4 weeks. Antibodies were measured on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and T-cell responses on enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) and flow-cytometry assays. Results No safety concerns were identified at any of the dose levels studied. Fever developed in 2 of the 59 participants who were evaluated. Prolonged activated partial-thromboplastin times and transient hyperbilirubinemia were observed in 4 and 8 participants, respectively. Geometric mean antibody responses on ELISA were highest (469 units; range, 58 to 4051; 68% response rate) at 4 weeks in the high-dose group, which had a 100% response rate for T cells on ELISpot, peaking at day 14 (median, 693 spot-forming cells per million peripheral-blood mononuclear cells). Flow cytometry revealed more CD4+ than CD8+ T-cell responses. At the vaccine doses tested, both antibody and T-cell responses were detected but at levels lower than those induced in macaques protected by the same vaccine. Conclusions The ChAd3 monovalent vaccine against EBOV was immunogenic at the doses tested. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others; number, NCT02240875 .).

Concepts: Antibody, Microbiology, Immunology, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Eva Engvall, Ebola


Background The current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak has resulted in more than 24,000 cases and 10,000 deaths. We present a preliminary report from two phase 1 trials of an attenuated, replication-competent, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)-based vaccine candidate to prevent EVD. Methods We conducted two phase 1, placebo-controlled, double-blind, dose-escalation trials of an rVSV-based vaccine candidate expressing the glycoprotein of a Zaire strain of Ebola virus (ZEBOV). A total of 26 adults at each site (52 participants in all) were consecutively enrolled into groups of 13 each. Three volunteers in each group received an intramuscular injection of placebo, and 10 received an intramuscular injection of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine at a dose of either 3 million plaque-forming units (PFU) or 20 million PFU. Safety and immunogenicity were assessed for the 28 days after vaccination. Results The most common adverse events were injection-site pain, myalgia, and fatigue; no events resulted in withdrawal from the study. Transient VSV viremia was noted in all the vaccine recipients. By day 28, all the vaccine recipients had seroconversion as assessed by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) against the glycoprotein of the ZEBOV-Kikwit strain. At day 28, geometric mean titers of antibodies against ZEBOV glycoprotein were higher in the group receiving 20 million PFU than in the group receiving 3 million PFU, as assessed by ELISA (geometric mean antibody titer, 4079 vs. 1300; P<0.001) and by pseudovirion neutralization assay (geometric mean antibody titer, 441 vs. 223; P=0.07). Conclusions No safety concerns were identified after a single administration of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine candidate, and anti-Ebola immune responses were identified in all the volunteers. VSV viremia was detected but was of limited duration. These preliminary results support the further development of the vaccine dose of 20 million PFU. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP numbers, NCT02269423 and NCT02280408 .).

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Microbiology, Immunology, ELISA, ELISPOT, Ebola, Mononegavirales


Background To estimate the frequency and duration of detectable Zika virus (ZIKV) RNA in human body fluids, we prospectively assessed a cohort of newly infected participants in Puerto Rico. Methods We evaluated samples obtained from 150 participants (including 55 men) in whom ZIKV RNA was detected on reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay in urine or blood in an enhanced arboviral clinical surveillance site. We collected serum, urine, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions weekly for the first month and then at 2, 4, and 6 months. All specimens were tested by means of RT-PCR, and serum was tested with the use of anti-ZIKV IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Among the participants with ZIKV RNA in any specimen at week 4, biweekly collection continued until all specimens tested negative. We used parametric Weibull regression models to estimate the time until the loss of ZIKV RNA detection in each body fluid and reported the findings in medians and 95th percentiles. Results The medians and 95th percentiles for the time until the loss of ZIKV RNA detection were 14 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 11 to 17) and 54 days (95% CI, 43 to 64), respectively, in serum; 8 days (95% CI, 6 to 10) and 39 days (95% CI, 31 to 47) in urine; and 34 days (95% CI, 28 to 41) and 81 days (95% CI, 64 to 98) in semen. Few participants had detectable ZIKV RNA in saliva or vaginal secretions. Conclusions The prolonged time until ZIKV RNA clearance in serum in this study may have implications for the diagnosis and prevention of ZIKV infection. Current sexual-prevention guidelines recommend that men use condoms or abstain from sex for 6 months after ZIKV exposure; in 95% of the men in this study, ZIKV RNA was cleared from semen after about 3 months. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.).

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Eva Engvall, Immunoassay, Multiplex, Body fluids


This work demonstrates that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory. This low-cost dongle replicates all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a laboratory-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) without requiring any stored energy; all necessary power is drawn from a smartphone. Rwandan health care workers used the dongle to test whole blood obtained via fingerprick from 96 patients enrolling into care at prevention of mother-to-child transmission clinics or voluntary counseling and testing centers. The dongle performed a triplexed immunoassay not currently available in a single test format: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and nontreponemal antibody for active syphilis infection. In a blinded experiment, health care workers obtained diagnostic results in 15 min from our triplex test that rivaled the gold standard of laboratory-based HIV ELISA and rapid plasma reagin (a screening test for syphilis), with sensitivity of 92 to 100% and specificity of 79 to 100%, consistent with needs of current clinical algorithms. Patient preference for the dongle was 97% compared to laboratory-based tests, with most pointing to the convenience of obtaining quick results with a single fingerprick. This work suggests that coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain laboratory-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones.

Concepts: Antibody, Infectious disease, Type I and type II errors, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, HIV test, Immunoassay


In resource-constrained countries, affordable methodologies for the detection of disease biomarkers at ultralow concentrations can potentially improve the standard of living. However, current strategies for ultrasensitive detection often require sophisticated instruments that may not be available in laboratories with fewer resources. Here, we circumvent this problem by introducing a signal generation mechanism for biosensing that enables the detection of a few molecules of analyte with the naked eye. The enzyme label of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) controls the growth of gold nanoparticles and generates coloured solutions with distinct tonality when the analyte is present. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) and HIV-1 capsid antigen p24 were detected in whole serum at the ultralow concentration of 1 × 10(-18) g ml(-1). p24 was also detected with the naked eye in the sera of HIV-infected patients showing viral loads undetectable by a gold standard nucleic acid-based test.

Concepts: Antibody, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Gold, HIV test, Immunoassay, Secondary antibody