Author(s): Wang X
Since the implementation of Haemophilus influenzae (Hi) serotype b vaccine, other serotypes and non-typeable strains have taken on greater importance as a cause of Hi diseases. A rapid and accurate method is needed to detect all Hi regardless of the encapsulation status. We developed 2 real-time PCR (rt-PCR) assays to detect specific regions of the protein D gene (hpd). Both hpd assays are very specific and sensitive for detection of Hi. Of the 63 non-Hi isolates representing 21 bacterial species, none was detected by the hpd #1 assay, and only one of 2 H. aphrophilus isolates was detected by the hpd #3 assay. The hpd #1 and #3 assays detected 97% (229/237) and 99% (234/237) of Hi isolates, respectively, and were superior for detection of both typeable and non-typeable Hi isolates, as compared to previously developed rt-PCR targeting ompP2 or bexA. The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of these rt-PCR assays were assessed on cerebrospinal fluid specimens collected as part of meningitis surveillance in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The etiology (Neisseria meningitidis, Hi, and Streptococcus pneumoniae) of 111 suspected meningitis cases was determined by conventional methods (culture and latex agglutination), previously developed rt-PCR assays, and the new hpd assays. The rt-PCR assays were more sensitive for detection of meningitis pathogens than other classical methods and improved detection from 50% (56/111) to 75% (83/111). The hpd #3 assay identified a non-b Hi that was missed by the bexA assay and other methods. A sensitive rt-PCR assay to detect both typeable and non-typeable Hi is a useful tool for improving Hi disease surveillance especially after Hib vaccine introduction.