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In this diagnostic accuracy study, we evaluated data from 135 febrile patients from Chiang Rai, to determine the optimal optical density (OD) cutoffs for an in-house scrub typhus IgM ELISA. Receiver operating characteristic curves were generated using a panel of reference assays, including an IgM immunofluorescence assay (IFA), PCR, in vitro isolation, presence of an eschar, or a combination of these. Altogether, 33 patients (24.4%) were diagnosed as having scrub typhus. Correlation between positivity by IFA and increasing OD values peaked at a cutoff of 2.0, whereas there was little association between positivity by culture or eschar with increasing ELISA cutoffs-cutoffs of 3.0 and 4.0 were demonstrated to be optimal for the total absorbance of the OD at dilutions 1:100, 1:400, 1:1,600, and 1:6,400, for admission and convalescent samples, respectively. The optimal cutoff at a 1:100 dilution was found to be between 1.85 and 2.22 for admission samples and convalescent-phase samples, respectively. Sensitivities for the cutoffs varied from 57.1% to 90.0% depending on the reference test and sample timing, whereas specificities ranged from 85.2% to 99.0%. We therefore recommend a cutoff of around 2.0, depending on the sensitivity and specificity desired in clinical or epidemiological settings. The results demonstrate the ELISA to be a valuable diagnostic tool, suitable for use in resource-limited endemic regions, especially when used in combination with other diagnostic modalities such as the presence of an eschar.

Original publication

DOI

10.4269/ajtmh.18-0675

Type

Journal article

Journal

The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene

Publication Date

11/03/2019

Addresses

Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.