International interlaboratory trials on rabies diagnosis: An overview of results and variation in reference diagnosis techniques (fluorescent antibody test, rabies tissue culture infection test, mouse inoculation test) and molecular biology techniques

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife, WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Management in Zoonoses Control, OIE Reference Laboratory for Rabies, European Union Reference Laboratory for Rabies, European Union Reference Institute for Rabies Serology, Technopôle Agricole et Vétérinaire, BP 40009, 54220 Malzéville cedex, France.
Journal of virological methods (Impact Factor: 1.88). 06/2011; 177(1):15-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2011.06.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Interlaboratory trials on rabies diagnosis were organised in 2009 and in 2010 by the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for rabies. In 2009, two panels of virus samples were sent to participating laboratories to compare results on reference diagnosis techniques and on RT-PCR. A single panel was sent in 2010 to test FAT (fluorescent antibody test), RTCIT (rabies tissue culture infection test) and RT-PCR techniques. The virus panels included the RABV, EBLV-1, EBLV-2 and ABLV strains. Results revealed that laboratories produced the highest proportion of concordant results using RT-PCR (90.5%) and FAT (87.1%), followed by RTCIT (70.0%) and MIT (35.0%) in 2009 and in FAT (85.0%) and RT-PCR (80.6%) followed by RTCIT (77.3%) in 2010. Errors were only observed in bat strains (i.e. none in the RABV strain) for the RT-PCR or FAT techniques, highlighting the need to improve diagnosis most specifically in such strains. RT-PCR was the technique showing the lowest rate of false negative results in either trial year, while RTCIT and MIT (performed in 2009 only) were the techniques with the lowest proportion of false positive results. Nevertheless, the FAT technique represented a good compromise with both satisfactory sensitivity and specificity, as only a few false positive (1.6% in 2009, 5.8% in 2010) and false negative results (1.6% in both 2009 and 2010) were detected. The analysis of technical questionnaires describing the protocols used by participating laboratories revealed variation in the methods used that may induce inconsistencies in the results. In this study, the number of readers for FAT slide examination was identified as a factor affecting significantly the results of laboratories, suggesting that two independent readers are necessary for routine rabies diagnosis. Our findings highlight the need for all rabies diagnostic laboratories to improve harmonisation of procedures.

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