Repository logo

Deep sequencing approach for investigating infectious agents causing fever.

Change log


Susilawati, TN 
Jex, AR 
Pearson, M 
Navarro, S 


Acute undifferentiated fever (AUF) poses a diagnostic challenge due to the variety of possible aetiologies. While the majority of AUFs resolve spontaneously, some cases become prolonged and cause significant morbidity and mortality, necessitating improved diagnostic methods. This study evaluated the utility of deep sequencing in fever investigation. DNA and RNA were isolated from plasma/sera of AUF cases being investigated at Cairns Hospital in northern Australia, including eight control samples from patients with a confirmed diagnosis. Following isolation, DNA and RNA were bulk amplified and RNA was reverse transcribed to cDNA. The resulting DNA and cDNA amplicons were subjected to deep sequencing on an Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform. Bioinformatics analysis was performed using the program Kraken and the CLC assembly-alignment pipeline. The results were compared with the outcomes of clinical tests. We generated between 4 and 20 million reads per sample. The results of Kraken and CLC analyses concurred with diagnoses obtained by other means in 87.5 % (7/8) and 25 % (2/8) of control samples, respectively. Some plausible causes of fever were identified in ten patients who remained undiagnosed following routine hospital investigations, including Escherichia coli bacteraemia and scrub typhus that eluded conventional tests. Achromobacter xylosoxidans, Alteromonas macleodii and Enterobacteria phage were prevalent in all samples. A deep sequencing approach of patient plasma/serum samples led to the identification of aetiological agents putatively implicated in AUFs and enabled the study of microbial diversity in human blood. The application of this approach in hospital practice is currently limited by sequencing input requirements and complicated data analysis.



Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Australia, Communicable Diseases, Computational Biology, Fever, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Humans, Middle Aged, Reproducibility of Results, Workflow, Young Adult

Journal Title

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Financial support for this work was provided by James Cook University and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation.