Introduction: Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the central part of the Philippines on November 8, 2013. To identify possible outbreaks of communicable diseases after the typhoon, nasopharyngeal swabs, stool and blood samples were collected from patients who visited the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center due to acute respiratory infection (ARI), acute gastroenteritis (AGE) or other febrile illness (OFI) including suspected dengue fever, between November 28, 2013 and February 5, 2014.
Methods: Samples were tested on-site for selected pathogens using rapid diagnostic tests. Confirmation and further analysis were conducted at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing. Residues of the rapid diagnostic tests and samples collected in the filter papers (FTATM card) were transported to Manila under suboptimal conditions. PCR results were compared between the kit residues and the filter papers.
Results: A total of 185 samples were collected. Of these, 128 cases were ARI, 17 cases were AGE and 40 cases were OFI. For nasopharyngeal swab samples, detection rates for enterovirus and rhinovirus residues were higher than the filter papers. For stool samples, rotavirus positive rate for the filter paper was higher than the kit residues. We also managed to obtain the sequence data from some of the kit residues and filter papers.
Discussion: Our results confirmed the importance of PCR for the laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases in post-disaster situations when diagnostic options are limited.