Dengue fever is an acute viral infection. Extreme fever, headaches, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting are the main characteristics of the medical condition.
A diagnostic test for dengue fever is needed for rapid detection, confirmation of acute condition, detection of dengue antibodies and separation of dengue viral RNA or protein in tissue specimen or serum.
Acute dengue virus infection is most frequently confirmed by the use of serological tests. Dengue viral antigen can be detected for early diagnosis of the disease. The tests are carried out to detect dengue and also to ascertain the acuteness of the infection. When there is an increase in the dengue antibodies between initial and later samples, the infection is confirmed as acute.
The MAC-ELISA test is used for rapid confirmation of dengue fever. It needs to be repeated every 10 to 14 days if the initial test was negative. The samples collected initially and later can be analyzed through what is called hemaggulation inhibition (HI) or made to undergo enzyme immunoassays for definite confirmation or denial of acute dengue infection.
There are some complex tests called complement fixation and neutralising antibody which are not possible in every medical centre. Since these assays are very technically demanding, they are possible only in specialised laboratories.
Separation of dengue virus or detecting dengue viral RNA in a patient’s sample of serum or tissue gives a confirmation of the infection. But these assays have limited application because of their complex techniques. They are generally performed for the purposes of different types of medical research.
The dengue fever diagnostic tests are many and each has a different purpose. The most useful ones for the general public are serological rapid dengue tests because they help in early diagnosis and initiation of treatment.
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