Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Dengue NS1 Antigen

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This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required


What is Dengue NS1 Antigen?

Dengue NS1 Antigen test detects the non-structural protein component (NS1) of the dengue virus. This protein is secreted into the blood during dengue infection and is detectable during the first 7 days of symptoms. Therefore this test helps in early diagnosis and treatment of dengue infection. The initial symptoms which are commonly seen in dengue include sudden high fever, fatigue and flu-like symptoms.

If left untreated the infection may progress to a severe forms such as Dengue hemorrhagic fever or Dengue shock syndrome.

Why is Dengue NS1 Antigen done?

  • For the diagnosis of dengue virus infection. It is used to diagnose early detection of dengue virus infection and initial treatment procedures
  • The dengue-antigen-NS1 test can be used along with the current antibody test. It helps in differential diagnostics of flaviviruses
  • In the differential diagnosis of fever cases during the mosquito breeding season

What does Dengue NS1 Antigen Measure?

Dengue virus is a flavivirus with four distinct serotypes (Dengue virus 1, 2, 3, and 4). It is primarily transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, found in the tropical and subtropical regions.

Dengue nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) is an antigen produced by the replicating dengue virus. These antigens can be detected as early as the first day of symptoms and as late as day 18 of symptoms.

Clinically, in the beginning, there is sudden onset of fever combined with headache, muscle and joint pains (severe pain that gives it the nickname break-bone fever or bone crusher disease), distinctive pain from behind the eyes (retro-orbital pain) and rash (a generalized maculopapular rash with islands of sparing). After that, a hemorrhagic rash of characteristically bright red pinpoint spots (known as petechiae) can occur during the illness which is associated with thrombocytopenia. It usually appears first on the lower limbs and the chest, however, in some patients, it spreads to most of the body. Along with that, there can also be gastritis (inflammation in the stomach lining) with associated stomach pain, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting coffee-grounds-like congealed blood or diarrhea.

Dengue Hemorrhagic fever (DHF):

In DHF, the fever can go to a higher grade, it might also include variable bleeding manifestations like bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth, ear and oozing blood from skin pores. Other bleeding manifestations include thrombocytopenia, and hemoconcentration (thickening of the blood).


Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children. There is no specific treatment for dengue, but appropriate medical care can save the lives of patients with the more serious dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Interpreting Dengue NS1 Antigen results


Result in index


Negative (<0.9)

No detectable dengue NS1 antigen. The result does not rule out dengue infection. An additional sample should be tested for IgG & IgM serology in 7-14 days.


Equivocal (0.9-1.1)

Repeat sample after 1 week


Positive (>1.1)

Presence of detectable dengue NS1 antigen. Dengue IgG & IgM serology assays should be performed on follow up samples after 5-7 days of onset of fever, to confirm dengue infection.


Note: Recommended to do NS1 Antigen by ELISA in the first 5 days of fever. After 7-10 days of continuous fever, the recommended test is Dengue fever antibodies IgG & IgM by ELISA.

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dengue NS1 Antigen

Frequently Asked Questions about Dengue NS1 Antigen

Q. What are the symptoms of Dengue fever?
Dengue fever takes around 3 to 7 days to show its effect. Sometimes the infection remains asymptomatic (without symptoms), but the majority of individuals develop classic dengue fever. Symptomatic patients become acutely febrile (feverish) and may develop severe musculoskeletal pain, headache, retro-orbital pain, and a transient macular rash, most often observed in children. Children and young adults remain at increased risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, particularly after repeated infection with a new Dengue virus serotype.
Q. Is there any preparation required before the test?
Inform the doctor about the medications you may be taking. No other specific preparations are usually required before this test.
Q. How is the blood sample taken?
The healthcare provider takes a blood sample from the arm. The site from where the blood is to be withdrawn is cleaned with a swab of rubbing alcohol. This is then followed by inserting a small needle which has a tube attached to it for collecting blood. Once the sufficient blood for analysis is withdrawn, the needle is removed. The site is then covered with a gauze pad.
Q. Is there any risk associated with the withdrawal of blood sample procedure?
As such there is no risk but in few cases, bruising, bleeding, and infection at the puncture site can be seen. In very few cases, there can be swelling of the vein after the blood is withdrawn.
Q. What are the clinical types of Dengue fever?
The types of Dengue fever include Dengue fever or break-bone fever with no serious complications, Dengue hemorrhagic fever with bleeding, low platelet, and fluid loss (plasma leakage) and Dengue shock syndrome with low blood pressure.
Q. Is there any specific treatment available for Dengue?
No, there is no specific treatment or antiviral medicine available for Dengue. The treatment available is mainly supportive which is based on observation of hemorrhagic and circulatory abnormalities and laboratory test results (e.g., electrolytes, platelets, and hemoglobin).
Q. What is the advantage of detecting dengue NS1 antigen instead of dengue antibodies?
Detection of Dengue NS1 antigen helps in the diagnosis of current infection within the first week of illness (during the fever phase). Detection of IgM antibody, however, indicates possible current infection or recent infection (can be positive if the infection had occurred within the past 2 to 3 months). For medical management of acute fever, it is important to diagnose current infection which is done by Dengue-NS1. It has been observed that detecting Dengue NS1 is way reliable and takes less time than IgM, which takes around 6 to 10 to show results.
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