Although some clinical symptoms are typical of PIVs, etiologic diagnosis always requires detection of infectious virus, viral components, or an antibody response. PIVs are typical paramyxoviruses, causing a syncytial cytopathic effect in cell cultures; virus growth can be confirmed either by hemadsorption or by using immunological reagents. Currently, PIV is most often diagnosed by demonstrating viral antigens in clinical specimens by rapid and highly sensitive immunoassays.
More recently, PCR has been used for the detection of PIVs. Serological diagnosis is made by detecting a rising titer of immunoglobulin G or by demonstrating immunoglobulin M antibodies. PIVs infect species other than humans, and animal models are used to study the pathogenesis of PIV infections and to test candidate vaccines.
Accumulating knowledge on the molecular structure and mechanisms of replication of PIVs has accelerated research on prevention and treatment.
Several strategies for vaccine development, such as the use of live attenuated, inactivated, recombinant, and subunit vaccines, have been investigated, and it may become possible to prevent PIV infections in the near future.