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December 1993

Rapid Diagnosis of Coccidioidomycosis With a DNA Probe to Ribosomal RNA

Author Affiliations

From the Dermatology Service (Drs Beard and Benson) and the Department of Pathology (Ms Skillman), Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC.

Arch Dermatol. 1993;129(12):1589-1593. doi:10.1001/archderm.1993.04540010067010

Background:  Although nucleic acid probe hybridization assays were previously exclusively used as a tool in the research setting, such assays have recently become commercially available for the detection of a variety of infectious microorganisms.

Observations:  We used a commercially available DNA hybridization probe test that targets organism-specific ribosomal RNA sequences to rapidly diagnose a patient with disseminated coccidioidomycosis. The natural amplification inherent to such DNA:RNA probe systems obviates the need for electrophoretic separation and amplification steps, which are often required in more traditional DNA:DNA probe assays. With this probe, culture confirmation was obtained within 48 hours after the clinical specimens were received.

Conclusion:  Rapid DNA hybridization probe techniques have wide application in infectious diseases, especially those characterized by slow culture growth of pathogens such as deep fungi and atypical mycobacteria.