Laboratory Diagnosis of Respiratory Syncytial Infection

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For rapid diagnostics immunofluorescence assay or ELISA are commonly used for virus detection in nasopharyngeal secretions. Various kinds of RT-PCR tests are available for viral nucleic acid identification in clinical specimens.

Nasopharyngeal washings, nasal and throat swabs are taken for virus isolation.

The material is inoculated into continuous cell lines HeLa and HEp-2. Respiratory syncytial virus grows slowly, thus the cytopathic effects appear only at 10 day of culture – RSV induces giant cell and syncytium formation. Immunofluorescence test provides rapid virus identification in the cell culture.

Viral indication in clinical specimen is the strong argument for RSV infection, because healthy persons are not able to carry respiratory syncytial virus.

Serological diagnosis is helpful only for epidemiological investigations.

Treatment and Prophylaxis of RSV Infection

Ribavirin is recommended for antiviral therapy of RSV-mediated disorders. For urgent post-exposure prophylaxis of RSV infection in contact infants humanized antiviral monoclonal antibody (mAb “palivizumab”) is administered. Palivizumab is directed against F protein of RS virus. The efficacy of mAb prophylaxis is about 50-55%.

Efficient anti-RSV vaccine is not available now. Different kinds of RSV vaccines are under the current laboratory and clinical trials.