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  • Cytomegalovirus load at treatment initiation is predictive of time to resolution of viremia and duration of therapy in hematopoietic cell transplant recipients JOURNAL OF CLINICAL VIROLOGY Tan, S. K., Waggoner, J. J., Pinsky, B. A. 2015; 69: 179-183


    Preemptive antiviral therapy relies on viral load measurements and is the mainstay of cytomegalovirus (CMV) prevention in hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) recipients. However, optimal CMV levels for the initiation of preemptive therapy have not been defined.The objectives of our work were to evaluate the relationship between plasma CMV DNA levels at initiation of preemptive therapy with time to resolution of viremia and duration of treatment.Retrospective analysis of HCT recipients undergoing serial CMV PCR testing between June 2011 and June 2014 was performed.221 HCT recipients underwent preemptive therapy for 305 episodes of CMV viremia. Median time to resolution was shorter when treatment was initiated at lower CMV levels (15 days at 135-440 international units (IU)/mL, 18 days at 441-1000IU/mL, and 21 days at >1000IU/mL, P<.001). Prolonged viremia lasting >30 days occurred less frequently when treatment was initiated at 135-440IU/mL compared to 441-1000IU/mL and >1000IU/mL (1%, 15%, 24%, P<.001). Median treatment duration was also shorter in the lower viral load groups (28, 34, 37 days, P<.001).Initiation of preemptive therapy at low CMV levels was associated with shorter episodes of viremia and courses of antiviral therapy. These data support the utility of initiating preemptive CMV therapy at viral loads as low as 135IU/mL in HCT recipients.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jcv.2015.06.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358318400037

    View details for PubMedID 26209403

  • Fatal West Nile Virus Encephalitis in a Heart Transplant Recipient JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Gomez, A. J., Waggoner, J. J., Itoh, M., Hollander, S. A., Gutierrez, K. M., Budvytiene, I., Banaei, N., Pinsky, B. A. 2015; 53 (8): 2749-2752


    The diagnosis of encephalitis is particularly challenging in immunocompromised patients. We report here a case of fatal West Nile Virus encephalitis confounded by the presence of budding yeast in the CSF in a patient who had undergone heart transplantation for dilated cardiomyopathy 11 months prior to presentation of neurologic symptoms.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00834-15

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358290200055

    View details for PubMedID 25994169

  • Reverse-Transcriptase PCR Detection of Leptospira: Absence of Agreement with Single-Specimen Microscopic Agglutination Testing PLOS ONE Waggoner, J. J., Balassiano, I., Mohamed-Hadley, A., Vital-Brazil, J. M., Sahoo, M. K., Pinsky, B. A. 2015; 10 (7)
  • How great is the threat of chikungunya virus? Expert review of anti-infective therapy Waggoner, J. J., Pinsky, B. A. 2015; 13 (3): 291-293


    In the last decade, chikungunya virus has emerged from an obscure arbovirus that caused limited outbreaks of disease in Africa and Asia to the cause of a pandemic affecting millions of people and spanning five continents. Two separate chikungunya virus genotypes have been responsible for outbreaks during this period, including strains adapted to transmission in Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Further spread of this virus into new regions of the Western Hemisphere is predicted during the present rainy season in the tropics, and recurrent viral introductions and disease outbreaks, as occurred in Réunion in 2010, should be expected. Chikungunya virus no longer simply threatens; it has arrived as a significant, global pathogen.

    View details for DOI 10.1586/14787210.2015.995634

    View details for PubMedID 25537007

  • Improved serotype-specific dengue virus detection in Trinidad and Tobago using a multiplex, real-time RT-PCR DIAGNOSTIC MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE Waggoner, J. J., Sahadeo, N. S., Brown, A., Mohamed-Hadley, A., Hadley, D., Carrington, L., Carrington, C. V., Pinsky, B. A. 2015; 81 (2): 105-106


    Dengue virus (DENV) transmission occurs throughout the Caribbean, though laboratory confirmation and epidemiologic surveillance are limited by the availability of serotype-specific molecular diagnostics. In this study, we show that a serotype-specific DENV multiplex, real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR) detected DENV RNA in significantly more samples (82/182) than a reference hemi-nested RT-PCR (57/182; P=0.01).

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2014.10.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000348491500007

  • Reverse-Transcriptase PCR Detection of Leptospira: Absence of Agreement with Single-Specimen Microscopic Agglutination Testing. PloS one Waggoner, J. J., Balassiano, I., Mohamed-Hadley, A., Vital-Brazil, J. M., Sahoo, M. K., Pinsky, B. A. 2015; 10 (7)


    Reference diagnostic tests for leptospirosis include nucleic acid amplification tests, bacterial culture, and microscopic agglutination testing (MAT) of acute and convalescent serum. However, clinical laboratories often do not receive paired specimens. In the current study, we tested serum samples using a highly sensitive real-time nucleic acid amplification test for Leptospira and compared results to MAT performed on the same specimens.478 serum samples from suspected leptospirosis cases in Rio de Janeiro were tested using a real-time RT-PCR for the diagnosis of leptospirosis, malaria and dengue (the Lepto-MD assay). The Lepto-MD assay detects all species of Leptospira (saprophytic, intermediate, and pathogenic), and in the current study, we demonstrate that this assay amplifies both Leptospira RNA and DNA. Dengue virus RNA was identified in 10 patients, and no cases of malaria were detected. A total of 65 samples (13.6%) were positive for Leptospira: 35 samples (7.3%) in the Lepto-MD assay, 33 samples (6.9%) by MAT, and 3 samples tested positive by both (kappa statistic 0.02). Poor agreement between methods was consistent regardless of the titer used to define positive MAT results or the day of disease at sample collection. Leptospira nucleic acids were detected in the Lepto-MD assay as late as day 22, and cycle threshold values did not differ based on the day of disease. When Lepto-MD assay results were added to the MAT results for all patients in 2008 (n=818), the number of detected leptospirosis cases increased by 30.4%, from 102 (12.5%) to 133 (16.3%).This study demonstrates a lack of agreement between nucleic acid detection of Leptospira and single-specimen MAT, which may result from the clearance of bacteremia coinciding with the appearance of agglutinating antibodies. A combined testing strategy for acute leptospirosis, including molecular and serologic testing, appears necessary to maximize case detection.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0132988

    View details for PubMedID 26177295

  • Sensitive Real-Time PCR Detection of Pathogenic Leptospira spp. and a Comparison of Nucleic Acid Amplification Methods for the Diagnosis of Leptospirosis PLOS ONE Waggoner, J. J., Balassiano, I., Abeynayake, J., Sahoo, M. K., Mohamed-Hadley, A., Liu, Y., Vital-Brazil, J. M., Pinsky, B. A. 2014; 9 (11)
  • Encephalitis Caused by Chikungunya Virus in a Traveler from the Kingdom of Tonga JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Nelson, J., Waggoner, J. J., Sahoo, M. K., Grant, P. M., Pinsky, B. A. 2014; 52 (9): 3459-3461


    Febrile travelers from countries with unique endemic pathogens pose a significant diagnostic challenge. In this report, we describe the case of a Tongan man presenting with fever, rash, and altered mental status. The diagnosis of Chikungunya encephalitis was made using a laboratory-developed real-time RT-PCR and serologic testing.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01288-14

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341359300055

  • Multiplex Nucleic Acid Amplification Test for Diagnosis of Dengue Fever, Malaria, and Leptospirosis JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Waggoner, J. J., Abeynayake, J., Balassiano, I., Lefterova, M., Sahoo, M. K., Liu, Y., Vital-Brazil, J. M., Gresh, L., Balmaseda, A., Harris, E., Banaei, N., Pinsky, B. A. 2014; 52 (6): 2011-2018


    Dengue, leptospirosis, and malaria are among the most common etiologies of systemic undifferentiated febrile illness (UFI) among travelers to the developing world, and these pathogens all have the potential to cause life-threatening illness in returned travelers. The current study describes the development of an internally controlled multiplex nucleic acid amplification test for the detection of dengue virus (DENV) and Leptospira and Plasmodium species, with a specific callout for Plasmodium falciparum (referred to as the UFI assay). During analytical evaluation, the UFI assay displayed a wide dynamic range and a sensitive limit of detection for each target, including all four DENV serotypes. In a clinical evaluation including 210 previously tested samples, the sensitivities of the UFI assay were 98% for DENV (58/59 samples detected) and 100% for Leptospira and malaria (65/65 and 20/20 samples, respectively). Malaria samples included all five Plasmodium species known to cause human disease. The specificity of the UFI assay was 100% when evaluated with a panel of 66 negative clinical samples. Furthermore, no amplification was observed when extracted nucleic acids from related pathogens were tested. Compared with whole-blood samples, the UFI assay remained positive for Plasmodium in 11 plasma samples from patients with malaria (parasitemia levels of 0.0037 to 3.4%). The syndrome-based design of the UFI assay, combined with the sensitivities of the component tests, represents a significant improvement over the individual diagnostic tests available for these pathogens.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00341-14

    View details for Web of Science ID 000337919500028

  • Reply to "Inconclusive reverse transcription-PCR assay comparison for dengue virus detection and serotyping". Journal of clinical microbiology Waggoner, J. J., Pinsky, B. A. 2014; 52 (5): 1801-1802

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00013-14

    View details for PubMedID 24744403

  • Comparison of automated nucleic acid extraction methods for the detection of cytomegalovirus DNA in fluids and tissues. PeerJ Waggoner, J. J., Pinsky, B. A. 2014; 2


    Testing for cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA is increasingly being used for specimen types other than plasma or whole blood. However, few studies have investigated the performance of different nucleic acid extraction protocols in such specimens. In this study, CMV extraction using the Cell-free 1000 and Pathogen Complex 400 protocols on the QIAsymphony Sample Processing (SP) system were compared using bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL), tissue samples, and urine. The QIAsymphonyAssay Set-up (AS) system was used to assemble reactions using artus CMV PCR reagents and amplification was carried out on the Rotor-Gene Q. Samples from 93 patients previously tested for CMV DNA and negative samples spiked with CMV AD-169 were used to evaluate assay performance. The Pathogen Complex 400 protocol yielded the following results: BAL, sensitivity 100% (33/33), specificity 87% (20/23); tissue, sensitivity 100% (25/25), specificity 100% (20/20); urine, sensitivity 100% (21/21), specificity 100% (20/20). Cell-free 1000 extraction gave comparable results for BAL and tissue, however, for urine, the sensitivity was 86% (18/21) and specimen quantitation was inaccurate. Comparative studies of different extraction protocols and DNA detection methods in body fluids and tissues are needed, as assays optimized for blood or plasma will not necessarily perform well on other specimen types.

    View details for DOI 10.7717/peerj.334

    View details for PubMedID 24765569

  • Detection of Cytomegalovirus Drug Resistance Mutations by Next-Generation Sequencing JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Sahoo, M. K., Lefterova, M. I., Yamamoto, F., Waggoner, J. J., Chou, S., Holmes, S. P., Anderson, M. W., Pinsky, B. A. 2013; 51 (11): 3700-3710


    Antiviral therapy for cytomegalovirus (CMV) plays an important role in the clinical management of solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. However, CMV antiviral therapy can be complicated by drug resistance associated with mutations in the phosphotransferase UL97 and the DNA polymerase UL54. We have developed an amplicon-based high-throughput sequencing strategy for detecting CMV drug resistance mutations in clinical plasma specimens using a microfluidics PCR platform for multiplexed library preparation and a benchtop next-generation sequencing instrument. Plasmid clones of the UL97 and UL54 genes were used to demonstrate the low overall empirical error rate of the assay (0.189%) and to develop a statistical algorithm for identifying authentic low-abundance variants. The ability of the assay to detect resistance mutations was tested with mixes of wild-type and mutant plasmids, as well as clinical CMV isolates and plasma samples that were known to contain mutations that confer resistance. Finally, 48 clinical plasma specimens with a range of viral loads (394 to 2,191,011 copies/ml plasma) were sequenced using multiplexing of up to 24 specimens per run. This led to the identification of seven resistance mutations, three of which were present in <20% of the sequenced population. Thus, this assay offers more sensitive detection of minor variants and a higher multiplexing capacity than current methods for the genotypic detection of CMV drug resistance mutations.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01605-13

    View details for Web of Science ID 000325812200035

    View details for PubMedID 23985916

  • Profound plasmacytosis in a patient with dengue. International journal of hematology Ewalt, M. D., Abeynayake, J., Waggoner, J. J., Pinsky, B. A., Ohgami, R. S. 2013; 98 (5): 518-519

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12185-013-1452-3

    View details for PubMedID 24114365

  • Rare and Emerging Viral Infections in Transplant Recipients CLINICAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES Waggoner, J. J., Soda, E. A., Deresinski, S. 2013; 57 (8): 1182-1188


    Emerging viral pathogens include newly discovered viruses as well as previously known viruses that are either increasing, or threatening to increase in incidence. While often first identified in the general population, they may affect transplant recipients, in whom their manifestations may be atypical or more severe. Enhanced molecular methods have increased the rate of viral discovery but have not overcome the problem of demonstrating pathogenicity. At the same time, improved clinical diagnostic methods have increased the detection of re-emerging viruses in immunocompromised patients. In this review, we first discuss viral diagnostics and the developing field of viral discovery and then focus on rare and emerging viruses in the transplant population: HTLV-1; HEV; bocavirus; KI and WU polyomaviruses; coronaviruses HKU1 and NL63; influenza, H1N1; measles; dengue; rabies; and LCMV. Detection and reporting of such rare pathogens in transplant recipients is critical to patient care and improving our understanding of post-transplant infections.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/cid/cit456

    View details for Web of Science ID 000325168100022

  • Comparison of the FDA-Approved CDC DENV-1-4 Real-Time Reverse Transcription-PCR with a Laboratory-Developed Assay for Dengue Virus Detection and Serotyping JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Waggoner, J. J., Abeynayake, J., Sahoo, M. K., Gresh, L., Tellez, Y., Gonzalez, K., Ballesteros, G., Guo, F. P., Balmaseda, A., Karunaratne, K., Harris, E., Pinsky, B. A. 2013; 51 (10): 3418-3420


    Dengue virus (DENV) is the agent of the most common vector-borne disease worldwide. Using 199 clinical samples collected from Nicaragua and Sri Lanka, a laboratory-developed DENV multiplex real-time reverse transcription-PCR (rRT-PCR) proved more clinically sensitive than the FDA-approved CDC assay for DENV serotypes 1 to 4 when measured against a composite reference standard, with sensitivities of 97.4% versus 87.1%, respectively.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01359-13

    View details for Web of Science ID 000324624300039

    View details for PubMedID 23903549

  • Development of an Internally Controlled Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase PCR Assay for Pan-Dengue Virus Detection and Comparison of Four Molecular Dengue Virus Detection Assays JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Waggoner, J. J., Abeynayake, J., Sahoo, M. K., Gresh, L., Tellez, Y., Gonzalez, K., Ballesteros, G., Balmaseda, A., Karunaratne, K., Harris, E., Pinsky, B. A. 2013; 51 (7): 2172-2181


    A number of diagnostic tests are available for dengue virus (DENV) detection, including a variety of nucleic-acid amplification tests (NAATs). However, reports describing the direct comparison of different NAATs are limited. In this study, we report the design of an internally-controlled, real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) that detects all four DENV serotypes but does not distinguish between them (the pan-DENV assay). Two-hundred clinical samples were then tested using four different DENV RT-PCR assays: the pan-DENV assay; a commercially-produced, internally-controlled DENV rRT-PCR (the Altona assay); a widely-used hemi-nested RT-PCR; and a serotype-specific, multiplex rRT-PCR assay. The pan-DENV assay had a linear range extending from 7.0 to 1.0 log10 complimentary DNA (cDNA) equivalents/μL and a lower limit of 95% detection ranging from 1.7 to 7.6 cDNA equivalents/μL depending on the serotype. When measured against a composite reference standard, the pan-DENV assay proved more clinically sensitive than either the Altona or hemi-nested assays, with a sensitivity of 98.0% compared to 72.3% and 78.8%, respectively (p≤0.0001 for both comparisons). The pan-DENV assay detected DENV in significantly more samples collected on or after day five of illness and in a subgroup of patients with detectable anti-DENV IgM at presentation. No significant difference in sensitivity was observed between the pan-DENV assay and the multiplex rRT-PCR, despite the presence of an internal control in the former. The detection of DENV RNA late in the course of clinical illness should serve to lengthen the period during which a confirmed, molecular diagnosis of DENV infection can be provided.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00548-13

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320595800024

    View details for PubMedID 23637298

  • Single-Reaction, Multiplex, Real-Time RT-PCR for the Detection, Quantitation, and Serotyping of Dengue Viruses PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES Waggoner, J. J., Abeynayake, J., Sahoo, M. K., Gresh, L., Tellez, Y., Gonzalez, K., Ballesteros, G., Pierro, A. M., Gaibani, P., Guo, F. P., Sambri, V., Balmaseda, A., Karunaratne, K., Harris, E., Pinsky, B. A. 2013; 7 (4)
  • Single-reaction, multiplex, real-time rt-PCR for the detection, quantitation, and serotyping of dengue viruses. PLoS neglected tropical diseases Waggoner, J. J., Abeynayake, J., Sahoo, M. K., Gresh, L., Tellez, Y., Gonzalez, K., Ballesteros, G., Pierro, A. M., Gaibani, P., Guo, F. P., Sambri, V., Balmaseda, A., Karunaratne, K., Harris, E., Pinsky, B. A. 2013; 7 (4)


    Dengue fever results from infection with one or more of four different serotypes of dengue virus (DENV). Despite the widespread nature of this infection, available molecular diagnostics have significant limitations. The aim of this study was to develop a multiplex, real-time, reverse transcriptase-PCR (rRT-PCR) for the detection, quantitation, and serotyping of dengue viruses in a single reaction.An rRT-PCR assay targeting the 5' untranslated region and capsid gene of the DENV genome was designed using molecular beacons to provide serotype specificity. Using reference DENV strains, the assay was linear from 7.0 to 1.0 log₁₀ cDNA equivalents/µL for each serotype. The lower limit of detection using genomic RNA was 0.3, 13.8, 0.8, and 12.4 cDNA equivalents/µL for serotypes 1-4, respectively, which was 6- to 275-fold more analytically sensitive than a widely used hemi-nested RT-PCR. Using samples from Nicaragua collected within the first five days of illness, the multiplex rRT-PCR was positive in 100% (69/69) of specimens that were positive by the hemi-nested assay, with full serotype agreement. Furthermore, the multiplex rRT-PCR detected DENV RNA in 97.2% (35/36) of specimens from Sri Lanka positive for anti-DENV IgM antibodies compared to just 44.4% (16/36) by the hemi-nested RT-PCR. No amplification was observed in 80 clinical samples sent for routine quantitative hepatitis C virus testing or when genomic RNA from other flaviviruses was tested.This single-reaction, quantitative, multiplex rRT-PCR for DENV serotyping demonstrates superior analytical and clinical performance, as well as simpler workflow compared to the hemi-nested RT-PCR reference. In particular, this multiplex rRT-PCR detects viral RNA and provides serotype information in specimens collected more than five days after fever onset and from patients who had already developed anti-DENV IgM antibodies. The implementation of this assay in dengue-endemic areas has the potential to improve both dengue diagnosis and epidemiologic surveillance.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002116

    View details for PubMedID 23638191

  • Comparison of Xpert Flu rapid nucleic acid testing with rapid antigen testing for the diagnosis of influenza A and B JOURNAL OF VIROLOGICAL METHODS DiMaio, M. A., Sahoo, M. K., Waggoner, J., Pinsky, B. A. 2012; 186 (1-2): 137-140


    Influenza infections are associated with thousands of hospital admissions and deaths each year. Rapid detection of influenza is important for prompt initiation of antiviral therapy and appropriate patient triage. In this study the Cepheid Xpert Flu assay was compared with two rapid antigen tests, BinaxNOW Influenza A & B and BD Directigen EZ Flu A+B, as well as direct fluorescent antibody testing for the rapid detection of influenza A and B. Using real-time, hydrolysis probe-based, reverse transcriptase PCR as the reference method, influenza A sensitivity was 97.3% for Xpert Flu, 95.9% for direct fluorescent antibody testing, 62.2% for BinaxNOW, and 71.6% for BD Directigen. Influenza B sensitivity was 100% for Xpert Flu and direct fluorescent antibody testing, 54.5% for BinaxNOW, and 48.5% for BD Directigen. Specificity for influenza A was 100% for Xpert Flu, BinaxNOW, and BD Directigen, and 99.2% for direct fluorescent antibody testing. All methods demonstrated 100% specificity for influenza B. These findings support the use of the Xpert Flu assay in settings requiring urgent diagnosis of influenza A and B.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jviromet.2012.07.023

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312763600024

    View details for PubMedID 22841669

  • Clinical Significance of Low Cytomegalovirus DNA Levels in Human Plasma JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY Waggoner, J., Ho, D. Y., Libiran, P., Pinsky, B. A. 2012; 50 (7): 2378-2383


    The clinical significance of the detection of low copy numbers of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in immune-suppressed patients remains unclear. In this study, we compared the artus CMV Rotor-Gene PCR, utilizing an automated nucleic acid extraction and assay setup (the artus CMV protocol), with the COBAS Amplicor CMV Monitor test (our reference protocol). We then analyzed the results of all CMV PCR tests ordered following the implementation of the artus CMV protocol at our institution and followed 91 adult patients with positive test results. The artus CMV protocol had a linear range extending from 2.0 to 7.0 log(10) copies/ml and had a lower limit of 95% detection of 57 copies/ml. With archived plasma samples, this protocol demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 94% specificity for the detection of CMV DNA. Following implementation of the artus CMV protocol, 320 of 1,403 (22.8%) plasma samples tested positive (compared with 323/3,579 [9.0%] samples in the preceding 6 months), and 227 (16.2%) samples had copy numbers of <400/ml. Ninety-one adult patients had at least one positive test. The data were analyzed using a threshold of 200 copies/ml, and in 22 episodes, the viral load increased from <200 copies/ml to ? 200 copies/ml on sequential tests. In 21 of these 22 episodes, either the viral load continued to increase or antiviral treatment was initiated in response to the repeat value. In summary, we evaluate the performance characteristics of a protocol utilizing the artus CMV PCR and identify clinically meaningful changes in CMV DNA copy numbers even when they are initially detected at a low level.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.06800-11

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307360800033

    View details for PubMedID 22518866