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Best practices for health care professionals on the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for diagnosing pertussis

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      Wednesday, February 16, 2011,11:45 ET (1145 PM ET) CDCHAN-00319-2011 -02- 16-ADV-N With the continuing resurgence of pertussis, health care professionals will likely see more patients with suspected pertussis. Proper testing criteria, timing of testing, specimen collection techniques, protocols for avoiding specimen contamination, and appropriate interpretation of test results are all necessary to ensure that Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) reliably informs patient diagnosis. PCR is an important tool for timely diagnosis of pertussis and is increasingly available to clinicians. PCR is a molecular technique used to detect DNA sequences of the Bordetella pertussis bacterium and unlike culture does not require viable (live) bacteria present in the specimen. Despite this advantage, PCR can give results that are falsely-negative or falsely-positive. The following compilation of best practices is intended to help health care professionals optimize the use of PCR testing for pertussis by avoiding some of the more common pitfalls leading to inaccurate results.
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