Health authorities in Belize have confirmed that at least two people took a rapid test to detect the Chikungunya virus, but in an article published on October fifteenth, reports indicate that recent findings show that commercially available rapid diagnostic test for diagnosing the disease appears to perform poorly in terms of spe-ci-ficity and sensitivity. The reports states that researchers say the increasing threat of the virus’ emergence in temperate regions and the need to anticipate possible outbreaks of infection, are presenting a challenge to the current level of diagnostic preparedness. The researchers assessed the utility of four commercially available blood tests approved by the European Commission for detecting the virus. According to the researchers, these findings indicate that the RDTs evaluated should not be used in a clinical setting. They added that two tests that were enzyme-linked im–mu-nos-orbent tests, which are screening for chikungunya IgM and IgG, performed better. However, their rates of false-positive and false-negative results are “non-negligible.” Kim Bautista says health authorities in Belize are aware of the situation.

BAUTISTAKim Bautista - Chief of Operation of Vector Control

“The particular kit that goes by the name onsite used by a company CTK was found that on a study made it only had a 20% sensitivity rate which is basically your sensitivity is your true positive so there was a quite a bit of false negativity and false positive in the studies and done, there are no rapid test kits currently approved by either the CDC or by the WHO, the kits that CDC provided to us and for which you had personnel from CDC coming down to Belize to conduct training for our lab people and they provided us with some kits which I believe is the only approved kit that the CDC is issuing out or recommending and so it not to totally dismiss rapid test kits for Ckikungunya on a whole but until these kits go through the validation process we have to be careful in terms of classifying these as a concern case and of course we need to investigate those suspected cases and until we get confirmation then we need to also respond in time if it was a case so which is what we are doing in terms of the ground work.”

Researchers have also noted that more effective chikungunya tests are needed. The researchers wrote, quote, “If the current outbreak of chikungunya infection in the Americas follows the same trend as that seen in the 2005 Réunion Island outbreak, increased circulation of the virus can be expected, and diagnostic laboratories must be prepared,”. End quote.

The researcher’s pilot study was conducted using a small number of samples, but the findings show the importance of evaluating commercial diagnostic kits and published protocols before using such tools in clinical settings.

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