Harnessing Dengue Rapid Diagnostic Tests for the Combined Surveillance of Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya Viruses in Laos.
Recent expansions of vector-borne diseases highlight the need for improved surveillance, especially in resource-poor settings. Dengue virus (DENV), chikungunya virus (CHIKV), and Zika virus (ZIKV) share the same vectors as well as similar clinical presentations, suggesting that combined surveillance would be useful. We hypothesized that blood spotted on dengue rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) could be harnessed for sample collection in remote areas for subsequent detection of DENV, CHIKV, and ZIKV by reverse transcription real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). CHIKV and ZIKV dilutions were spotted on dengue RDTs (SD BIOLINE Dengue DUO), dried, and extracted. As reference, aliquots of each viral dilution were directly extracted. Using specific RT-qPCR tests, both viruses were successfully detected from RDT extracts. However, the limit of detection was slightly lower in comparison to direct extracts, two logfold for CHIKV and one logfold for ZIKV. For analysis of temperature stability, DENV dilutions were spotted on RDTs and stored for up to 2 months at -80°C, 4°C, or 35°C before testing. Storage of RDTs for 2 months at 35°C did not jeopardize detection of RNA by RT-qPCR; only minimal degradation was observed. This proof-of-principle study demonstrates the potential of using dengue RDTs for DENV/CHIKV/ZIKV combined surveillance in areas without access to laboratory facilities. Further investigations are needed for evaluation of tri-viral surveillance under field conditions using patient samples. Large-scale implementation of surveillance for these viruses is of crucial public health importance for the early detection of epidemics. This method also has important implications for improving understanding of the molecular epidemiology of the three viruses.