A peptide-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can be used for retrospective serosurveillance of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) by helping identify undetected chains of disease transmission.
The assay was developed by epitope mapping, using synthetic peptides from the spike, membrane, and nucleocapsid protein sequences of SARS-associated coronavirus. The new peptide ELISA consistently detected seroconversion by week 2 of onset of fever, and seropositivity remained through day 100.
Specificity was 100% on normal blood donor samples, on serum samples associated with infection by other pathogens, and on an interference panel. The peptide-based test has advantages of safety, standardization, and automation over previous immunoassays for SARS.
The assay was used for a retrospective survey of healthy healthcare workers in Taiwan who treated SARS patients. Asymptomatic seroconversions were detected in two hospitals that had nosocomial disease.