Is there an antigen test for Monkeypox? Monkeypox is different from COVID19 for several reasons. Monkeypox has clear visible symptoms, it has been around for a lot longer, and we currently have a vaccine that can be used for it. Currently the only way to test for Monkeypox is by a PCR test. As of July 2022, there is no approved rapid antigen test for Monekypox.
Rapid antigen tests need to be approved by your countries drug or medical device agency. In the USA this is FDA in Canada this is Health Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic many rapid antigen tests received emergency use authorization. As of yet there has not been the same emergency use authorizations for Monkeypox antigen or PCR tests.
How is Human Monkeypox testing being done?
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed their own PCR test for Monkeypox. As of July 2022 this is the only FDA approved diagnostic test for moneypox. Some commercial labs including Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp have started using this same CDC protocol to test the general public. This will increase the number of people able to be tested, and not be limited by CDC’s testing capability.
The US recently declared monkeypox a health emergency, giving them more flexibility in the temporary approval of monkeypox testing. More testing options may soon enter the US marketing.
Clinical labs in other countries are using commercially available Monkeypox PCR tests, including tests provided by Aurora Biomed.
What is a PCR test? Does PCR just tell you there is a disease not what disease you have?
PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. In order to study DNA we need many copies, not just what was extracted from the sample. Often the amount of DNA from a sample (nose or cheek swab) is not enough to get results in a test. The process of PCR was created so that there could be enough DNA for testing. It works by using a protein found in nature that organism use to copy DNA, called DNA polymerase. However, DNA polymerase cannot just copy DNA by itself it needs ingredients. It needs a primer and nucleotide. A primer is a specific gene that you know is in the DNA you want to copy. The primer binds to the matching section of sample DNA. If the primer does not match the DNA you are trying to copy no copies will be made. This is often used as a quick test.
Scientists run PCR, if the DNA was replicated then you know that the sample DNA had the gene that matched the primer. If the DNA didn’t replicate then the gene was not in the sample DNA. For a Monkeypox PCR test a gene that is only found in Monkeypox is used as the primer.
Is there a rapid antigen test for Monkeypox?
As of July 2022 there are no approved rapid antigen tests for Monkeypox. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid antigen tests had emergency use authorizations in several countries including US and Canada. It is likely that there will not be rapid antigen tests to diagnose Monkeypox use anytime soon, unless Monkeypox becomes a pandemic or public health crisis. At that time approval agencies might issue emergency use authorizations for Monkeypox rapid antigen tests.
Want to read about how Monkeypox is different than COVID-19?
This information is for education and research purposes only. This is not for diagnostic use. For a medical diagnoses consult with your doctor.