Early and accurate diagnosis of dengue is imperative for disease surveillance, which helps in the control of dengue in endemic countries. In this study, we evaluated the performance of three commercially available dengue nonstructural 1 (NS1) antigen assays (Bio-Rad Platelia™ Dengue NS1 Antigen ELISA, PanBio Dengue Early ELISA, and Bio-Rad Dengue NS1 Antigen Strip test) and compared them with reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and other commercially available serological assays for the diagnosis of dengue. The analysis showed RT-PCR to be the most sensitive and specific (100%) diagnostic method during the first 3 days of fever. The overall sensitivity of dengue NS1 antigen assays within the same period was 81.7%, indicating their potential role as a cost-effective and convenient alternative method to RT-PCR for the diagnosis of dengue fever in a primary healthcare setting. However, reduced sensitivity in detecting secondary dengue infections was one of the drawbacks of dengue NS1 antigen assays. Nonetheless, it remains a useful assay for the early detection of dengue and hence could play an important role in routine surveillance efforts to control dengue outbreaks in Singapore.
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