Am J Trop Med Hyg 2019 03;100(3):532-539
Center for Diagnostics and Vaccine Development, Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taipei, Republic of China.
Scrub typhus is caused by the intracellular bacterium . The 56-kDa type-specific antigen (TSA) displays a significant antigenic variation across different strains. To minimize the influence of the antigenic diversity of TSA on assay sensitivity, we developed a mixed-TSA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (mixed-TSA ELISA) using a mixture of recombinant TSAs of prototype (Karp, Gilliam, and Kato) and local (TW-1, TW-10, TW-19, and TW-22) strains as antigens to detect immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against . These four local strains covered a major part of the total genetic diversity of TSA gene of in Taiwan. A total of 109 acute-phase serum samples from polymerase chain reaction-positive, scrub typhus patients, and 82 negative control serum samples from non-scrub typhus cases were used for evaluation of the recombinant TSA-based ELISA. We compared the performance of the mixed-TSA ELISA with immunofluorescence assay (IFA), which is considered the gold standard method for the serological diagnosis of scrub typhus. The results indicated that the sensitivity of IgM mixed-TSA ELISA (80.7%) was significantly higher than that of IgM IFA (68.8%). We demonstrated that the mixed-TSA ELISA had a high sensitivity and specificity and can be used for screening of scrub typhus patient in the early phase of the disease.