I think one of the most interesting and important intersections of microbiology and public health is the creation of diagnostic techniques for identifying what pathogen patients are infected by. This is especially important for tropical diseases in resource poor settings where modern medical techniques and laboratory equipment are not readily available. This is a review article just published that goes over all the different diagnostic techniques for assessing Dengue.
Dengue is difficult to cultivate in the laboratory because of its highly variable genome. This feature has been a barrier for developing and implementing rapid diagnostic tests. However, progress has been made over recent years and various assays are more available. However, these techniques are still not near 100% accurate and can yield variable results. This paper encourages scientists to view these new rapid diagnostics as valuable and viable alternatives to laboratory techniques rather than a less accurate competitor.
Another theme the paper touches on that is fascinating and relevant to all viruses is the controversy around the use of point-of-care techniques, especially by non-clinicians. Many people question the implication of non-clinician use and interpretation of these results because of the large chance of misdiagnosis.
- Lauren Platt
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Teles, F. S. R. R. Biosensors and rapid diagnostic tests on the frontier between analytical and clinical chemistry for biomelcular diagonsis of dengue disease: A review. Analytic Chimica Act. 2011. 687, 28-42.