Diagnostic methods are available at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg for acute encephalitis caused by BoDV-1 and VSBV-1. In particular, cases with severe encephalitis from the known endemic areas or stay in the endemic areas or after contact with exotic tree squirrels should be investigated:
- real time PCRs from cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue
- antibody detection from serum and CSF (IIFT, immunoblot, ELISA).
Antibody detection in serum is currently the most sensitive detection method; Borna-specific antibodies appear later in CSF and are lower in titre. Virus RNA detection in CSF is usually only successful in earlier phases of the disease, but regularly in biopsies from inflamed areas. In the positive case, viral whole genome sequencing is performed using NGS to assign the isolate to a geographical cluster.
- in situ hybridisation and immunohistology can be performed from brain tissue.
Medical practices, clinics and institutes can also send serum, cerebrospinal fluid or brain tissue from encephalitis cases with an unclear diagnosis for retrospective examination. In particular, there is also the possibility of examining formalin-fixed archival samples embedded in paraffin.
Furthermore, patients with unclear neurological clinical pictures, household members of BoDV-1 and VSBV-1 patients, keepers of exotic tree squirrels and their household members and personnel from zoological gardens keeping exotic squirrels can be serologically tested.
Please use our submission form to request the test.
Further information on the diagnostic procedure (tests, procedure, case definition; in English) can be found here in this publication and also in this publication. Further information on the background and our research can be found on this page.