Superiority of west nile virus RNA detection in whole blood for diagnosis of acute infection

Yaniv Lustig*, Batya Mannasse, Ravit Koren, Shiri Katz-Likvornik, Musa Hindiyeh, Michal Mandelboim, Sara Dovrat, Danit Sofer, Ella Mendelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The current diagnosis of West Nile virus (WNV) infection is primarily based on serology, since molecular identification of WNV RNA is unreliable due to the short viremia and absence of detectable virus in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Recent studies have shown that WNV RNA can be detected in urine for a longer period and at higher concentrations than in plasma. In this study, we examined the presence of WNV RNA in serum, plasma, whole-blood, CSF, and urine samples obtained from patients diagnosed with acute WNV infection during an outbreak which occurred in Israel in 2015. Our results demonstrate that 33 of 38 WNV patients had detectable WNV RNA in whole blood at the time of diagnosis, a higher rate than in any of the other sample types tested. Overall, whole blood was superior to all other samples, with 86.8% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 100% positive predictive value, and 83.9% negative predictive value. Interestingly, WNV viral load in urine was higher than in whole blood, CSF, serum, and plasma despite the lower sensitivity than that of whole blood. This study establishes the utility of whole blood in the routine diagnosis of acute WNV infection and suggests that it may provide the highest sensitivity for WNV RNA detection in suspected cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2294-2297
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016


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