The test has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It can be performed using equipment and supplies public health laboratories currently use to diagnose influenza.
The new diagnostic tool can determine whether or not a person has acquired the dengue virus within the first seven days after symptoms of the illness appear. This is the period when most people are likely to visit a healthcare professional and also the period when the virus is most likely to be present in their blood. The test is capable of detecting the presence of all four types of the virus.
“The need for the new dengue diagnostic test was high,” Dr. Jorge L. Munoz-Jordan of the CDC Dengue Branch said. “Patients will be diagnosed sooner than before, and public health laboratories will have a clearer picture of the true number of dengue cases. Dengue is now a reportable disease in the United States, and the availability of state-of-the-art dengue diagnostics will improve patient management and the public health response to dengue.”
The molecular test for dengue is the first of its kind that detects evidence of the virus, as opposed to those that look for a certain type of dengue antibody. Although most dengue patients develop the antibodies four days after the onset of the illness, some do not until after seven days, giving the new test a distinct advantage.
Because the new diagnostic utilizes common equipment, labs that run real-time PCR influenza assays will be able to begin performing it immediately. The CDC said testing kits will be available in the beginning of July.