Acute meningitis is a common neurological disorder that affects both children and adults and has a high mortality rate. This study aimed to create a multiplex reverse transcriptase PCR system for screening clinical samples for the presence of the two viruses currently considered to be the most common causes of acute meningitis in Asia.
A single-tube RT multiplex PCR assay was developed and tested for sensitivity and specificity using primers that have been commonly used to screen for herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 (HSV-1/2) and enterovirus (EV) in clinical samples. The procedure was then used to screen 303 clinical samples for the target viruses, which included 101 feces samples, 101 throat swabs, and 101 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples obtained from 101 hospitalized Iranian children with suspected viral meningitis/meningoencephalitis, and the findings were compared to those of an RT monoplex PCR method.
The RT-PCR approach demonstrated high precision, with no non-target virus amplification. The results of using this assay to screen clinical samples revealed that RT monoplex PCR had the same sensitivity as RT multiplex PCR for the three different types of specimens.
This newly developed multiplex RT-PCR method is a simple, fast diagnostic tool that can be used to screen clinical samples for viruses that cause acute meningitis/meningoencephalitis in children.