Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for Eastern equine encephalitis virus and West Nile virus in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded brain tissue of horses.
ABSTRACT Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH) can be used either to detect or to differentiate between Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and West Nile virus (WNV) within formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) brain tissue of horses. To compare the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of ISH and IHC, FFPE brain tissue from 20 EEEV-positive horses and 16 WNV-positive horses were tested with both EEEV and WNV oligoprobes and EEEV- and WNV-specific antibodies. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for detection of EEEV and WNV was used as the gold standard to confirm infection. All horses that tested positive for EEEV by RT-PCR also tested positive by IHC and ISH, except for 1 case that was false-negative by ISH. In contrast, all horses that tested positive for WNV by RT-PCR tested negative by IHC and only 2 horses tested positive by ISH. No false-positives were detected with either method for both viruses. Both IHC and ISH are highly specific and sensitive diagnostic methods to detect EEEV in equine FFPE brain tissues, although neither appear effective for the diagnosis of WNV in equine neurologic cases.