Laboratory diagnosis of acute dengue fever during the United Nations Mission in Haiti, 1995-1996.

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  • 1 Diagnostic Systems Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21702-5011, USA.
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We evaluated laboratory methods to confirm a clinical diagnosis of dengue. Acute sera were collected from personnel (n = 414) supporting the United Nations Mission in Haiti and presenting with febrile illness consistent with dengue fever or no apparent underlying cause. Dengue virus was recovered from 161 of 379 acute sera by inoculation into C6/36 cell culture. While 93 of 414 acute sera had detectable IgM antibodies, the IgM capture ELISA (MAC ELISA) had a sensitivity of only 13% compared with the virus isolation gold standard. If presumptive dengue fever cases were identified by both virus isolation and the presence of IgM, virus isolation and the MAC ELISA had clinical sensitivities of 69% and 40%, respectively. This study suggests that a combination of laboratory methods that target virus or subviral components as well as anti-viral IgM antibodies may be necessary for sensitive laboratory diagnosis with acute sera.