Laboratory Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases

Clinical microbiology laboratories use a number of rapid tests to detect specific microbial antigens or nucleic acids in primary nontissue specimens. For example, Cryptococcus antigen testing can be performed on cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), and antigen testing for respiratory viruses can be performed on nasopharyngeal specimens. Molecular techniques are being used increasingly in clinical laboratories to detect pathogen-specific nucleic acids and have most notably been applied to virologic diagnosis, as discussed later. The introduction and rapid expansion of molecular techniques, especially nucleic acid detection methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR)/DNA amplification, to the detection of infectious agents requires clinicians to be familiar with the properties of new diagnostic tests as they enter common use.


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