Carlo Fischer, Fernando Bozza, Xiomara Jeanleny Merino Merino, Celia Pedroso, Edmilson F. de Oliveira Filho, Andrés Moreira-Soto, Alvaro Schwalb, Xavier de Lamballerie, Eduardo Martins Netto, Patrícia T. Bozza, Manoel Sarno, Carlos Brites, Eduardo Gotuzzo, Michael Talledo, Jan Felix Drexler
Since 2013, the arthropod-borne Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has cocirculated with the autochthonous Mayaro virus (MAYV) in Latin America. Both belong to the same alphavirus serocomplex, termed the Semliki Forest serocomplex. The extent of antibody cross-reactivity due to the antigenic relatedness of CHIKV and MAYV in commonly used serologic tests remains unclear. By testing 64 CHIKV- and 37 MAYV-specific sera from cohort studies conducted in Peru and Brazil, we demonstrate about 50% false-positive test results using commercially available enzymelinked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) based on structural antigens. In contrast, combining ELISAs for CHIKV and MAYV significantly increased positive predictive values (PPV) among all cohorts from 35.3% to 88.2% for IgM and from 61.3% to 96.8% for IgG (P0.0001). Testing of longitudinally collected CHIKV-specific patient sera indicated that ELISA specificity is highest for IgM testing at 5 to 9 days post-onset of symptoms (dpo) and for IgG testing at 10 to 14 dpo. IgG cross-reactivity in ELISA was asymmetric, occurring in 57.9% of MAYV-specific sera compared to 29.5% of CHIKV-specific sera. Parallel plaque reduction neutralization testing (PRNT) for CHIKV and MAYV increased the PPV from 80.0% to 100% (P0.0053). However, laborintense procedures and delayed seroconversion limit PRNT for patient diagnostics. In sum, individual testing for CHIKV or MAYV only is prone to misclassifications that dramatically impact patient diagnostics and sero-epidemiologic investigation. Parallel ELISAs for both CHIKV and MAYV provide an easy and efficient solution to differentiate CHIKV from MAYV infections. This approach may provide a template globally for settings in which alphavirus coemergence imposes similar problems.