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Biomarkers, especially CRP, have demonstrated their relevance to differentiate viral from bacterial infection, even though a reliable threshold is far to being found. In low- and middle-income countries, affordable and user-friendly rapid diagnostic tests based on biomarkers can be widely adopted to help health workers in the management of non-malarial fever. The primary objective of this study is to assess the best CRP cut-off to distinguish viral from bacterial infections. Other biomarkers were evaluated for the same purpose, alone or in combination with CRP. We retrospectively collected data from two referral hospital departments for infectious and tropical diseases in Italy. Areas under the ROC curve (AUC) were calculated and then compared using the DeLong test. Overall, we included 1193 febrile cases (viral 20.74% vs. bacterial 79.25%). We also collected malaria (n = 202) and intestinal parasite (n = 186) cases to establish their impact on biomarkers. CRP had the best accuracy in differentiating viral from bacterial infections. The best performance of CRP was a cut-off of 11 mg/L. All other biomarkers studied had significantly lower accuracy. Median CRP values were within the normal ranges in parasitic infections, while they were higher in malaria. None of the combinations of CRP with other biomarkers significantly increased the accuracy of CRP alone.

Original publication




Journal article


Diagnostics (Basel)

Publication Date





low- and middle-income countries, non-malarial fever, point-of-care tests