Safe diagnostic immunoreagents for determination of human and animal seroprevalence in epidemiological investigations are urgently needed.
This paper describes the cloning and expression of the nucleocapsid (N) protein of SFTSV. An N-protein-based double-antigen sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) system was set up to detect the total antibodies in human and animal sera.
We reasoned that as the double-antigen sandwich ELISA detected total antibodies with a higher sensitivity than traditional indirect ELISA, it could be used to detect SFTSV-specific antibodies from different animal species.
The serum neutralization test was used to validate the performance of this ELISA system.
All human and animal sera that tested positive in the neutralization test were also positive in the sandwich ELISA, and there was a high correlation between serum neutralizing titers and ELISA readings. Cross-reactivity was evaluated, and the system was found to be highly specific to SFTSV; all hantavirus- and dengue virus-confirmed patient samples were negative. SFTSV-confirmed human and animal sera from both Anhui and Hubei Provinces in China reacted with N protein in this ELISA, suggesting no major antigenic variation between geographically disparate virus isolates and the suitability of this assay in nationwide application. ELISA results showed that 3.6% of the human serum samples and 47.7% of the animal field serum samples were positive for SFTSV antibodies, indicating that SFTSV has circulated widely in China. This assay, which is simple to operate, poses no biohazard risk, does not require sophisticated equipment, and can be used in disease surveillance programs, particularly in the screening of large numbers of samples from various animal species.