Dengue is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause severe flu-like symptoms with possible complications like hemorrhage and shock. Dengue infection may progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever resulting in severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, bruising, and uncontrolled bleeding.The most severe form of the illness- dengue hemorrhagic shock- may lead to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, and multi-organ failure. With such complications, fatality is significant. Hence, timely and correct diagnosis is critical.
According to data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, DGHS, there were 157220 cases of Dengue last year- over a 5.5-fold increase from 2010 to 2017. Deaths due to dengue infection have more than doubled over the same period. In fact, there were 28000 more cases in India in 2017 as compared to 2016, making this disease a major public health concern. Delhi had the dubious distinction of doubling the number of dengue cases in 2017 versus 2016. Alarmingly, the city has already reported 15 cases this year leading experts to predict a larger number of cases in the monsoon of 2018.
Missed or even delayed diagnosis can lead to severe complications due to dengue. Two-thirds of deaths from dengue are due to missed diagnosis necessitating use of a quick, reliable method for detection. Routine testing for Dengue is done using ELISA to detect Nonstructural protein 1 (NS1), IgMandIgG. NS1 can be used for detection in the 1st 5 days after infection whileIgMis detected only after 3-5 days of illness in cases of primary infection and persists for two or three months. IgG may appear in the same time-frame but persists life-long. However, IgM/IgG detection is not very specific for dengue and may cause false positives due to cross-reactivity with other Flaviviruses. Additionally, none of these assays can be used for serotyping.
With its innovative Molecular assays, iGenetic Diagnostics can detect dengue virus in blood samples of patients at a very early stage of infection. This ensures timely treatment resulting inbetter outcomes for the patient. The company headquartered in Mumbai applies advanced PCR-based technologies to look for the genetic material of the pathogen in the patient’s sample. Dengue virus and hence, its RNA, is detectable in the blood from Day 1 to about Day 7. The highly sensitive method developed at iGenetic enables detection of dengue from Day 1.
Dengue virus has 4 serotypes- DENV1, DENV2, DENV3 and DENV4. All serotypes are found in India. Of these, DENV2 and DENV3 are frequently associated with severe disease accompanying secondary dengue infections. Once a person has been infected with one serotype, they have lifelong immunity from infection by that serotype. However, if an individual gets a Dengue infection again with a different serotype, disease progression is accelerated and severe, thereby proving deadly. So iGenetichas also developed a rapid Molecular Diagnostic test that can identify the serotype of the virus.
“Dengue and other viral infections are difficult to diagnose using conventional microbiological methods. Viral cultures are not commonly done by routine diagnostic labs and serological methods have low sensitivity and specificity. We have successfully employed Molecular Diagnostic approaches to accurately and rapidly diagnose viral infections. Even other complex conditions like Septicemia and CNS infections are diagnosed in 24 hours at iGenetic. Speed and accuracy of diagnosis are vital in critical care. Besides, our innovations help us keep prices affordable so that these services can be used even in smaller cities and villages.” says Ms Arunima Patel, Founder and CEO, iGenetic Diagnostics.