Field evaluation of capillary blood samples as a collection specimen for the rapid diagnosis of ebola virus infection during an outbreak emergency

Thomas Strecker, Bernadett Palyi, Heinz Ellerbrok, Sylvie Jonckheere, Hilde De Clerck, Joseph Akoi Bore, Martin Gabriel, Kilian Stoecker, Markus Eickmann, Michel Van Herp, Pierre Formenty, Antonino Di Caro, Stephan Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background. Reliable reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-based diagnosis of Ebola virus infection currently requires a blood sample obtained by intravenous puncture. During the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea, we evaluated the usability of capillary blood samples collected from fingersticks of patients suspected of having Ebola virus disease (EVD) for field diagnostics during an outbreak emergency. Methods. A total of 120 venous and capillary blood samples were collected from 53 patients admitted to the Ebola Treatment Centre in Guéckédou, Guinea, between July and August 2014. All sample specimens were analyzed by RT-PCR using the RealStar Filovirus Screen RT-PCR Kit 1.0 from altona Diagnostics (Germany). We compared samples obtained by venipuncture and those obtained by capillary blood sampling absorbed onto swab devices. Results. The resulting sensitivity and specificity of tests performed with capillary blood samples were 86.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 71.9%-95.6%; 33/38 patients) and 100% (95% CI, 84.6%-100%; 22/22 patients), respectively. Conclusions. Our data suggest that capillary blood samples could serve as an alternative to venous blood samples for the diagnosis of EVD in resource-limited settings during a crisis. This can be of particular advantage in cases when venipuncture is difficult to perform-for example, with newborns and infants or when adult patients reject venipuncture for cultural or religious reasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-675
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume61
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Capillary blood
  • Ebola virus
  • Ebola virus disease
  • Field diagnostic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)

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