We developed a highly specific, sensitive, and economical hemadsorption immunosorbent technique for the detection of dengue-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody. The technique is based on the reaction of human sera with anti-human IgM immobilized onto a solid phase followed by the detection of dengue-specific IgM by the addition of a known quantity of dengue virus hemagglutinin and goose erythrocytes. Dengue-specific IgM-positive sera showed hemadsorption. IgM antibody specific for dengue virus was detected in 22 of 39 (56%) convalescent-phase sera from primary dengue infections and 8 of 10 (80%) convalescent-phase sera from secondary dengue infections. Additionally, 32 of 76 single sera from patients were positive for dengue IgM; these sera were previously uninterpretable by the hemagglutination inhibition test, as only a single serum specimen was available. No false-positive results were obtained with sera that were negative by the hemagglutination inhibition test for dengue virus. Crude dengue virus hemagglutinin preparations could be used without purification. Dengue-specific IgG did not interfere with the results, nor was there any cross-reactivity between dengue hemagglutinins and IgM specific for other viruses. Some cross-reactivity of the dengue-specific IgM was observed with Japanese encephalitis virus hemagglutinins, but this did not present any problems in the interpretation of results. This test is specific, inexpensive, highly reproducible, and simple to perform.
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