Duration: 2 min. read
Health & Wellness, News & Trends
Mpox is not a new disease, but a significant new outbreak has drawn attention to the need for rapid diagnosis and treatment. Quest’s one-step mpox test gives physicians the tool they need to diagnose their patients quickly, a key benefit in reducing the spread of this infectious disease.
First discovered in 1958, mpox is a type of orthopoxvirus, a group that includes smallpox and cowpox, among others. Like smallpox, it causes skin lesions, which shed virus. Those who have been vaccinated against smallpox have some protection against mpox, but the extent of protection in any individual is unknown, and smallpox vaccination was discontinued in the United States in 1980, so younger Americans likely have no pre-existing immunity to mpox.
Unlike SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, the mpox virus does not spread through the air, but rather through contact. “That reduces the basic reproduction number, or R-naught,” notes Hema Kapoor, MD, senior director, infectious disease and immunology and Global Diagnostic Network at Quest Diagnostics. “That means that, on average, 1 infected person is likely to infect 1 to 2 others. Unfortunately, because mpox remains infectious for 2-4 weeks, vaccinating those in close contact with the infected person is unlikely to be effective in reducing transmission,” Dr Kapoor noted.
Quest’s one-step mpox test
Testing is a key to reducing spread, Dr Kapoor added. Quest’s in-house experts in mpox biology began developing a test as soon as the outbreak began in the US. Quest led the industry with the first commercial mpox diagnostic assay, which is a dual-target assay using single-swab sampling and easy requisitioning.
The sample is taken by vigorously swabbing a lesion and placing the swab in viral culture media. Since it is the liquid, not the swab, that is used for testing, only 1 swab is needed for the 2 tests. In contrast, the test offered by the CDC requires 2 swabs.
The test detects nonvariola orthopox DNA as well as the West African Clade (also called Clade 2) strain of mpox, which is causing the current outbreak. Unlike the CDC test, no second "confirmatory" test is needed when nonvariola orthopox DNA is detected.
Unlike state and federal laboratories which require extensive paperwork, the Quest test can be ordered using a single requisition form (test code 12084). Results are delivered in 2 to 3 days.
“With the proper personal protective equipment, collection is quite safe,” Dr Kapoor added. “Healthcare personnel can collect patient samples easily and send them to us for testing. And testing is the key to helping keep patients safe.”