Department of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Institute of Tropical Medicine (NEKKEN), Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki, 852-8523, Japan; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Program for Nurturing Global Leaders in Tropical and Emerging Communicable Diseases, Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki, 852-8523, Japan; National Research Center for the Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases (CCPID), Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki, 852-8523, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]
Lassa virus (LASV) causes Lassa fever (LF), a viral hemorrhagic fever endemic in West Africa. LASV strains are clustered into six lineages according to their geographic location. To confirm a diagnosis of LF, a laboratory test is required. Here, a reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay using a portable device for the detection of LASV in southeast and south-central Nigeria using three primer sets specific for strains clustered in lineage II was developed. The assay detected in vitro transcribed LASV RNAs within 23 min and was further evaluated for detection in 73 plasma collected from suspected LF patients admitted into two health settings in southern Nigeria. The clinical evaluation using the conventional RT-PCR as the reference test revealed a sensitivity of 50% in general with 100% for samples with a viral titer of 9500 genome equivalent copies (geq)/mL and higher. The detection limit was estimated to be 4214 geq/mL. The assay showed 98% specificity with no cross-reactivity to other viruses which cause similar symptoms. These results suggest that this RT-LAMP assay is a useful molecular diagnostic test for LF during the acute phase, contributing to early patient management, while using a convenient device for field deployment and in resource-poor settings.