Diagnostic accuracy of two multiplex real-Time polymerase chain reaction assays for the diagnosis of meningitis in children in a resource-limited setting

Jermaine Khumalo, Mark Nicol, Diana Hardie, Rudzani Muloiwa, Phindile Mteshana, Colleen Bamford

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19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction Accurate etiological diagnosis of meningitis is important, but difficult in resource-limited settings due to prior administration of antibiotics and lack of viral diagnostics. We aimed to develop and validate 2 real-Time multiplex PCR (RT-PCR) assays for the detection of common causes of community-Acquired bacterial and viral meningitis in South African children. Methods We developed 2 multiplex RT-PCRs for detection of S. pneumoniae, N. meningitidis, H. influenzae, enteroviruses, mumps virus and herpes simplex virus. We tested residual CSF samples from children presenting to a local paediatric hospital over a one-year period, whose CSF showed an abnormal cell count. Results were compared with routine diagnostic tests and the final discharge diagnosis. We calculated accuracy of the bacterial RT-PCR assay compared to CSF culture and using World Health Organisation definitions of laboratory-confirmed bacterial meningitis. Results From 292 samples, bacterial DNA was detected in 12 (4.1%) and viral nucleic acids in 94 (32%). Compared to CSF culture, the sensitivity and specificity of the bacterial RT-PCR was 100% and 97.2% with complete agreement in organism identification. None of the cases positive by viral RT-PCR had a bacterial cause confirmed on CSF culture. Only 9/90 (10%) of patients diagnosed clinically as bacterial meningitis or partially treated bacterial meningitis tested positive with the bacterial RT-PCR. Discussion In this population the use of 2 multiplex RT-PCRs targeting 6 common pathogens gave promising results. If introduced into routine diagnostic testing, these multiplex RT-PCR assays would supplement other diagnostic tests, and have the potential to limit unnecessary antibiotic therapy and hospitalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0173948
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

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