Diagnostic Test Developed For Enterovirus D68, Washington University in St. Louis Study

Diagnostic Test Developed For Enterovirus D68

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a diagnostic test to quickly detect enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a respiratory virus that caused unusually severe illness in children last year. The outbreak caused infections at an unprecedented rate, with over 1,000 confirmed cases and 14 reported deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Results published in the August issue of The Journal of Clinical Microbiology demonstrate that the test is extremely effective at identifying various strains of EV-D68 and reduces the amount of time needed to detect the virus.

Earlier procedures for identifying enterovirus strains involved sequencing a region of the virus’s genome, which is too cumbersome to perform on large numbers of patients. The new test can be completed in a few hours, while previous techniques took several days to process. The researchers also said the new test is more specific than commercially available diagnostic tests for enterovirus.

“Commercial tests for respiratory viral infections typically don’t distinguish between rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, and enteroviruses, and within each of those groups there are many different types,” said senior author Gregory A. Storch, MD, the Ruth L. Siteman Professor of Pediatrics.

“Having a tool to identify which cases of respiratory illness are actually EV-D68 is an advantage for public health,” he added. “These kinds of tests help treatment decisions because it is important to know that the patient doesn’t have influenza or another disease that might require a specific treatment. It’s also important in a hospital for preventing infections because doctors take patients with one particular virus and keep them apart from patients infected with other infectious agents.”

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