Abstract

We evaluated the Hexaplex assay (Prodesse, Waukesha, WI) for the detection of 7 respiratory viruses (influenza A and B, parainfluenza 1-3, and respiratory syncytial virus [RSV] A and B). The Hexaplex assay was performed on 300 respiratory samples during the 1999-2000 respiratory virus season. Results of this assay were compared with shell vial cell culture and/or direct fluorescent antibody stain. The overall sensitivity and specificity of the assay were 96.6% and 94.1%, respectively. The respective sensitivity and specificity of the Hexaplex assay for detection of specific virus groups were as follows: influenza A, 98.6% and 97.8%; influenza B, 100% and 100%; and for parainfluenza viruses (1-3), 100% and 99.1%. The assay did not perform as well with patients infected with RSV: sensitivity and specificity were 91.0% and 98.6%, respectively. There are 2 major drawbacks to this assay: it is technically demanding (3-4 hours hands-on time), and it is expensive ($80-$90 direct cost). Nevertheless, because of the excellent sensitivity and specificity, the Hexaplex assay may be valuable in the diagnosis of respiratory viral infections in immunocompromised patients.