Use of immunoglobulin G avidity assays for differentiation of primary from previous infections with West Nile virus.J Clin Microbiol. 2005 Dec; 43(12):5873-5.JC
Since its introduction in 1999, West Nile virus (WNV) infections have spread rapidly across the North American continent. Diagnosis of acute WNV infection by detection of WNV-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) is complicated by the persistence of detectable IgM for more than 1 year in some patients. IgG antibody avidity testing was assessed as a supplemental assay in the diagnosis of current infections. Three groups of serum samples were assayed in parallel by two different IgG avidity test systems (indirect immunofluorescence test [IIFT] and prototype enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA]; EUROIMMUN, Luebeck, Germany). Group I (40 sera taken between 2 and 9 days after the onset of influenza-like symptoms) and group II (40 sera taken between 10 and 43 days after onset) were acute and convalescent specimens from patients with a positive anti-WNV IgM test (ELISA; Focus Diagnostics, Cypress, CA). Group III consisted of 43 patient sera collected between 6 and 12 months after infection. IgG antibodies specific for WNV were detected in 38% (ELISA) and 50% (IIFT) of group I sera, in 90% (ELISA and IIFT) of group II sera, and in 100% (ELISA and IIFT) of group III sera. Low-avidity IgG antibodies were demonstrated in 86% (ELISA) and 95% (IIFT) of IgG-positive patient samples taken between 2 and 43 days after the onset of symptoms (groups I and II). High-avidity IgG antibodies were detected in 100% of group III sera obtained 6 months or more after the onset of symptoms (ELISA and IIFT). IgG avidity tests for WNV infections are rapid and simple to perform. The determination of IgG avidity provides additional diagnostic certainty in differentiating between recently acquired and previous infections with WNV.