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Keywords:

  • Diagnosis;
  • Haemophilus influenzae;
  • meningitis;
  • Neisseria meningitidis;
  • PCR;
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae

Abstract

Rapid, accurate and inexpensive diagnosis of bacterial meningitis is critical for patient management. This study describes the development and evaluation of a multiplex PCR assay for the detection of Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b, which globally account for 90% of cases of bacterial meningitis. The single-tube assay, based on the ctrA, ply and bex targets, respectively, enabled detection of 5–10 pg DNA. When the assay was tested with clinical samples (n = 425), its sensitivity for the three targets was 93.9%, 92.3% and 88%, respectively, while the overall specificity and positive predictive value of the assay was 100%. The negative predictive value was 99.1–99.5%. The methodology permits rapid and accurate detection of the three main pathogens that cause bacterial meningitis.