As rickettsial diseases generally are easily treatable, pursuing a diagnostic research theme is of high importance. Historically, typhus has been diagnosed serologically and the Indirect Immunofluorescence Assay (IFA) remains the gold standard to date.
Ongoing diagnostic studies aim at:
- assessing the diagnostic accuracy of the current gold standard immunofluorescence assay
- collecting human, rodent and vector isolates from many study sites across the network
- working towards improved diagnostic methods using ELISAs, protein arrays etc.
- performing rickettsial diagnostics for fever studies across various study sites
- dissecting the antigenic strain heterogeneity of Orientia tsutsugamushi
- evaluating and validating various molecular and rapid diagnostic tests
- defining the endemic background titers (and positivity cut-off titers)
- characterizing regional Rickettsia spp. and Orientia spp. / strains
- providing diagnostically well-characterised patient samples
- using the network to map strain variation
We have developed new methods i.e. the loop-mediated isothermal PCR assays (LAMP), and contributed in evaluating/validating rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and ELISA based assays. We will continue to prospectively assess the diagnostic accuracies of various diagnostic methodologies in the future.