Molecular differentiation of Treponema pallidum subspecies in skin ulceration clinically suspected as yaws in Vanuatu using real-time multiplex PCR and serological methods.

Research paper by Kai-Hua KH Chi, Damien D Danavall, Fasihah F Taleo, Allan A Pillay, Tun T Ye, Eli E Nachamkin, Jacob L JL Kool, David D Fegan, Kingsley K Asiedu, Lasse S LS Vestergaard, Ronald C RC Ballard, Cheng-Yen CY Chen

Indexed on: 19 Nov '14Published on: 19 Nov '14Published in: The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene


We developed a TaqMan-based real-time quadriplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to simultaneously detect Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum, T. pallidum subsp. pertenue, and T. pallidum subsp. endemicum, the causative agents of venereal syphilis, yaws, and bejel, respectively. The PCR assay was applied to samples from skin ulcerations of clinically presumptive yaws cases among children on Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Another real-time triplex PCR was used to screen for the point mutations in the 23S rRNA genes that have previously been associated with azithromycin resistance in T. pallidum subsp. pallidum strains. Seropositivity by the classical syphilis serological tests was 35.5% among children with skin ulcerations clinically suspected with yaws, whereas the presence of T. pallidum subsp. pertenue DNA was only found in lesions from 15.5% of children. No evidence of T. pallidum subsp. pertenue infection, by either PCR or serology was found in ∼59% of cases indicating alternative causes of yaws-like lesions in this endemic area.

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