4.4.1 What are standard laboratory tests for post mortem rabies diagnosis?

The only way to undertake a reliable diagnosis of rabies is by using standardized and widely validated reference tests (for more information see here and here).

The fluorescent antibody test (FAT) has remained the gold standard for detecting rabies virus in brain tissue for the past half century or more (for details see here). It involves examination of brain impressions or smears with monoclonal or polyclonal anti-rabies virus conjugates that produce immunofluorescence in rabid specimens.

The direct rapid immunohistochemical test (DRIT) has emerged as an economical, low technology, real-time test of value in countries where laboratory infrastructure is lacking (read more here). Such test has also enhanced rabies surveillance in North America, as a complementary surveillance tool for wildlife rabies (e.g., raccoon) to support ORV campaigns. Similarly to the FAT, the DRIT involves the examination of brain impressions but, rather than immunofluorescence, employs light microscopy and biotin-labelled antibodies, as opposed to immunofluorescence to detect rabies viral antigens (for detailed protocols see here).

These tests have been used to detect rabies with a very low ratio of false negatives, which represents one of the most significant concerns in rabies diagnosis.

next page: 4.4.2 What about other post mortem rabies diagnostic tests?


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[en]Version 1 Last updated December 2014[fr]Première version, dernière mise à jour Juin 2015