Polymerase Chain Reaction for Diagnosis and Identification of Distinct Variants of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus in the United Arab Emirates

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  • Max von Pettenkofer Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology, Ludwig Maximilians University, Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Munich, Germany

Viral hemorrhagic fever has re-emerged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since November 1993. Genomic RNA of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic virus (C-CHFV) was detected by a newly developed, nested reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in the sera of four (25.0%) of 16 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever. The RT-PCR was based on oligonucleotide primers deducted from the small RNA segment encoding the nucleoprotein of the virus. By comparison with a nucleotide sequence of a C-CHFV isolate from a Chinese sheep, a divergence of 10.0–11.8% was detected in the C-CHFV variants causing the UAE outbreak. In the four positive sera, three phylogenetically distinct C-CHFV variants were amplified and confirmed by direct sequencing of the PCR fragments. These C-CHFV sequences were obtained directly from sera of infected humans without prior propagation in cell culture. The RT-PCR allows rapid detection of genomic C-CHFV RNA in clinical specimens and study of the molecular epidemiology of this infection.

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