Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32658185
Link to DOI – 10.3791/60008
2020 06; (160):
Functional rabies surveillance systems are crucial to provide reliable data and increase the political commitment necessary for disease control. To date, animals suspected as rabies-positive must be submitted to a postmortem confirmation using classical or molecular laboratory methods. However, most endemic areas are in low- and middle-income countries where animal rabies diagnosis is restricted to central veterinary laboratories. Poor availability of surveillance infrastructure leads to serious disease underreporting from remote areas. Several diagnostic protocols requiring low technical expertise have been recently developed, providing opportunity to establish rabies diagnosis in decentralized laboratories. We present here a complete protocol for field postmortem diagnosis of animal rabies using a rapid immunochromatographic diagnostic test (RIDT), from brain biopsy sampling to the final interpretation. We complete the protocol by describing a further use of the device for molecular analysis and viral genotyping. RIDT easily detects rabies virus and other lyssaviruses in brain samples. The principle of such tests is simple: brain material is applied on a test strip where gold conjugated antibodies bind specifically to rabies antigens. The antigen-antibody complexes bind further to fixed antibodies on the test line, resulting in a clearly visible purple line. The virus is inactivated in the test strip, but viral RNA can be subsequently extracted. This allows the test strip, rather than the infectious brain sample, to be safely and easily sent to an equipped laboratory for confirmation and molecular typing. Based on a modification of the manufacturer’s protocol, we found increased test sensitivity, reaching 98% compared to the gold standard reference method, the direct immunofluorescence antibody test. The advantages of the test are numerous: rapid, easy-to-use, low cost and no requirement for laboratory infrastructure, such as microscopy or cold-chain compliance. RIDTs represent a useful alternative for areas where reference diagnostic methods are not available.