A solid-phase enzyme linked immunosorbent assay was developed for the detection of immunoglobulin M antibody to hepatitis A virus. The system was capable of detecting hepatitis A-specific immunoglobulin M in a single dilution of serum and appears to be a reliable and rapid means of establishing a diagnosis of hepatitis A infection. Specific immunoglobulin M was only detected in patients with serologically confirmed hepatitis A and not in patients with other forms of hepatitis, chronic liver disease, or autoimmune disease. In patients with hepatitis A, specific immunoglobulin M was usually detectable for 6 weeks after the onset of dark urine, and the longest period for which it was present in any patient was 115 days. This enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is rapid, simple to perform, and does not require complicated equipment. Provided adequate supplies of purified reagents can be obtained, this enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay procedure is likely to simplify hepatitis A serology, because the same antibody-coated plates can be utilized to detect hepatitis A virus, anti-hepatitis A virus, and hepatitis A-specific immunoglobulin M
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