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Dengue test facility in City

ONE MONTH after it was able to identify chikungunya RNA using the PCR method, City-based Choithram Hospital and Research Centre has come up with similar test to identify dengue RNA virus at its microbiology laboratory.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 14:11 IST

ONE MONTH after it was able to identify chikungunya RNA using the PCR method, City-based Choithram Hospital and Research Centre has come up with similar test to identify dengue RNA virus at its microbiology laboratory.

It has thus joined the select club of institutions in the country providing facilities to conduct such tests. The tests were earlier performed at National Institute of Communicable Diseases (Delhi) and National Institute of Virology (Pune), albeit by a different method.

“We have used the real time PCR method. The test using this (RT-PCR) gives more precision and is more sensitive and specific,” Prof and Head of Microbiology & Immunology department at Choithram Dr D S Chitnis said.

“The first standardisation of the reagent was done on Saturday and from Monday we have started conducting the sample tests,” he said.

The lab tested four samples on Monday but none was positive, he added. “The problem with the present anti-body tests is there are variations in the count from lab to lab and the result depends on the brand/kit from company to company, hence we were keen on developing this test with the RT-PCR method,” he said.

The kit (reagent) for the test is not locally available and has to be brought from New Delhi, he said, adding, “but the test result with this method can be obtained very fast, in a day in fact.”

Even in the thick of epidemic-like situation in case of chikungunya and dengue, health authorities in Indore have been sending suspected samples to NICD (Delhi), which entails a long wait. And, by the time the result is known the patient has been treated and discharged.

NICD conducts the serological test, which is an indirect test while Choithram lab has used a molecular biology based test using `Real Time PCR’. After Choithram Hospital came out with similar tests for chikungunya, many private practitioners had started sending their samples here. But till date, no samples were sent either by M Y Hospital or other health authorities to the lab. Continuing the red-tape approach, the health authorities maintain that they go by the rules laid down by the State Government.

Another deterrent is the cost factor as the reagents used for the PCR method are costly. While the chikungunya tests costs Rs 1,500, the test for dengue would cost Rs 2,000, Dr Chitnis said. The real time PCR facility also helps quantification of virus such as HIV, HBV and HCV. The department also has facility for detection of bird flu virus.