Diagnostic Virology — Then and Now
Several technical approaches are required for the laboratory diagnosis of viral infections. For example, over a 30-year span, laboratory methods have ranged from serology for demonstrating acute phase infection or for measuring immunity or evidence of past infection with a virus and use of cell cultures for demonstration of cytopathic effects (CPE) to amplification and detection of nucleic acid sequences of agents by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Between these extremes, enzyme immunoassay (EIA), immunologic detection of early antigens, and nucleic acid probes have expanded our ability to diagnose viral infections much more rapidly than in the past. Because the types and prevalence of viral infections vary according to the specific clinical practice, i,e, children’s hospital, tertiary care clinic, or State Public Health Laboratory, each individual virology laboratory must design their service tests to support these special needs. In a children’s hospital, methods for the diagnosis of respiratory tract are of greatest significance, whereas detection of herpesvirus infections is most important in tertiary care practice. Further, epidemiologic goals of State Health Laboratories may indicate use of serology for enterovirus serotyping or conventional tube cell cultures exclusively for detection of influenza virus CPE.
KeywordsRespiratory Syncytial Virus Diagn Microbiol Infect Nucleic Acid Probe Shell Vial Enterovirus Serotyping
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