Objectives. To develop a sensitive multiplex PCR to detect HCMV, HHV6 and HHV7, to test this PCR on urine specimens sent to the virus diagnostic laboratory and on stored urine samples from HIV-positive patients and their HIV-negative partners and to compare the sensitivity of the multiplex PCR with the diagnostic laboratory's routine service for the detection of HCMV. Study Design. Primers specific for each of the three viruses were combined in a multiplex PCR that was then optimised for sensitivity. This PCR was applied prospectively to 413 unselected routine urine specimens over a 1 year period and retrospectively to 258 urine specimens from 63 HIV-positive patients and 10 HIV-negative partners. Methods. In the prospective study, the multiplex PCR detected 40 specimens positive for HCMV alone, 10 for HHV6, 3 for HHV7 and 3 with a dual infection of HCMV and HHV6. The sensitivity for HCMV was 93.5% by multiplex PCR compared to 28.3% by culture. HHV6 DNA was detected in 6 neonates (2-21 days) and HHV7 DNA in 2 neonates (4 and 20 days). In the retrospective study of HIV patients, HCMV was the most commonly detected virus (55.6%) compared to HHV6 (7.9%) and HHV7 (4.8%). Conclusions. The multiplex PCR was significantly more sensitive than non-DNA based procedures for the detection of HCMV. Urine may be a useful non-invasive specimen for the detection of HHV6 and HHV7 and their presence in neonates suggest perinatal transmission or the possibility of in utero infection. © 2003 The British Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
- In utero infection