A Review of Methods for Detecting Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus Infection in Tick, Animal, and Human Specimens

ERGÜNAY K., Tkachev S., Kozlova I., Ruzek D.

VECTOR-BORNE AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES, vol.16, no.1, pp.4-12, 2016 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1089/vbz.2015.1896
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.4-12


Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is the most important tick-transmitted arbovirus causing human disease in Europe and Asia. Over the past decades, the incidence of TBEV infection has significantly increased, with over 13,000 annual hospital referrals in endemic countries and cases emerging in previously unaffected regions. Specific detection of TBEV is required to diagnose suspected human cases or during surveillance of tick vectors and/or susceptible animal species. Widely used techniques for diagnosis comprise serological methods to detect viral antigens or antibodies and nucleic acid tests to detect viral RNA in target specimens. Moreover, virus isolation using susceptible cell lines or vertebrates, electron microscopy, or immunohistochemistry can also be employed on specific occasions. The purpose of this review is to compile and outline various approaches and techniques for detecting TBEV infection in ticks, wild animals, and humans. Specific sections for specimen collection and storage, nucleic acid testing, and serological assays cover various aspects of dynamics, performance characteristics, and utility in the diagnostic workup of suspected cases. Impact of immunoglobulin M testing and quantification, immunoglobulin G avidity, and real-time and quantitative polymerase chain reaction methods were overviewed with assay comparisons. Recent advances in serological assays to mitigate the impact of cross-reactions were further discussed along with the detailed interpretation of laboratory test results in human infections.