• High sensitivity and specificity of the Pastorex latex agglutination test for Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A during a clinical trial in Niger.

      Borel, T; Rose, A M C; Guillerm, M; Sidikou, F; Gerstl, S; Djibo, A; Nathan, N; Chanteau, S; Guerin, P J; Epicentre, 8 rue St Sabin, 75011 Paris, France. (2006-10)
      There is a great need for a rapid diagnostic test to guide vaccine choice during outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis in resource-poor countries. During a randomised clinical trial conducted during an epidemic of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A in Niger in 2003, the sensitivity and specificity of the Pastorex latex agglutination test for this serogroup under optimal field conditions were assessed, using culture and/or PCR as the gold standard. Results from 484 samples showed a sensitivity of 88% (95% CI 85-91%) and a specificity of 93% (95% CI 90-95%). Pastorex could be a good alternative to current methods, as it can be performed in a local laboratory with rapid results and is highly specific. Sensitivity can be improved with prior microscopy where feasible. A study specifically to evaluate the Pastorex test under epidemic conditions, using laboratories with limited resources, is recommended.
    • Paracheck-Pf accuracy and recently treated Plasmodium falciparum infections: is there a risk of over-diagnosis?

      Swarthout, T D; Counihan, H; Senga, R K K; van den Broek, I; Médecins Sans Frontières, London, UK. toddswarth@yahoo.com (Elsevier, 2007)
      BACKGROUND: An assessment of the accuracy of Paracheck Pf, a malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) detecting histidine rich protein 2 was undertaken amongst children aged 6-59 months in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. METHODS: This RDT assessment occurred in conjunction with an ACT efficacy trial. Febrile children were simultaneously screened with both RDT and high quality microscopy and those meeting inclusion criteria were followed for 35 days. RESULTS: 358 febrile children were screened with 180 children recruited for five weeks follow-up. On screening, the RDT accurately diagnosed all 235 true malaria cases, indicating 100% RDT sensitivity. Of the 123 negative slides, the RDT gave 59 false-positive results, indicating 52.0% (64/123) RDT specificity. During follow-up after treatment with an artemisinin-based combination therapy, 98.2% (110/112), 94.6% (106/112), 92.0% (103/112) and 73.5% (50/68) of effectively treated children were still false-positive by RDT at days 14, 21, 28 and 35, respectively. CONCLUSION: Results show that though the use of Paracheck-Pf is as sensitive as microscopy in detecting true malaria cases, a low specificity did present a high frequency of false-positive RDT results. What's more, a duration of RDT false-positivity was found that significantly surpassed the 'fortnight' after effective treatment reported by its manufacturer. Though further research is needed in assessing RDT accuracy, study results showing the presence of frequent false positivity should be taken into consideration to avoid clinicians inappropriately focusing on malaria, not identifying the true cause of illness, and providing unnecessary treatment.