• Clinical diagnostic evaluation of HRP2 and pLDH-based rapid diagnostic tests for malaria in an area receiving seasonal malaria chemoprevention in Niger

      Coldiron, M; Assao, B; Langendorf, C; Sayinzoga-Makombe, N; de la Tour, R; Piriou, E; Ciglenecki, I; Mumina, A; Guindo, O; Page, A-L; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-12-26)
      Background Rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) for malaria are common, but their performance varies. Tests using histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) antigen are most common, and many have high sensitivity. HRP2 tests can remain positive for weeks after treatment, limiting their specificity and usefulness in high-transmission settings. Tests using Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) have been less widely used but have higher specificity, mostly due to a much shorter time to become negative. Methods A prospective, health centre-based, diagnostic evaluation of two malaria RDTs was performed in rural Niger during the high malaria transmission season (3–28 October, 2017) and during the low transmission season (28 January–31 March, 2018). All children under 5 years of age presenting with fever (axillary temperature > 37.5 °C) or history of fever in the previous 24 h were eligible. Capillary blood was collected by finger prick. The SD Bioline HRP2 (catalog: 05FK50) and the CareStart pLDH(pan) (catalog: RMNM-02571) were performed in parallel, and thick and thin smears were prepared. Microscopy was performed at Epicentre, Maradi, Niger, with external quality control. The target sample size was 279 children with microscopy-confirmed malaria during each transmission season. Results In the high season, the sensitivity of both tests was estimated at > 99%, but the specificity of both tests was lower: 58.0% (95% CI 52.1–63.8) for the pLDH test and 57.4% (95% CI 51.5–63.1) for the HRP2 test. The positive predictive value was 66.3% (95% CI 61.1–71.2) for both tests. In the low season, the sensitivity of both tests dropped: 91.0% (95% CI 85.3–95.0) for the pLDH test and 85.8% (95% CI 79.3–90.9) for the HRP2 test. The positive predictive value remained low for both tests in the low season: 60.5% (95% CI 53.9–66.8) for the pLDH test and 61.9% (55.0–68.4) for the HRP2 test. Performance was similar across different production lots, gender, age of the children, and, during the high season, time since the most recent distribution of seasonal malaria chemoprevention. Conclusions The low specificity of the pLDH RDT in this setting was unexpected and is not easily explained. As the pLDH test continues to be introduced into new settings, the questions raised by this study will need to be addressed.
    • Markers of sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; implications for malaria chemoprevention

      van Lenthe, M; van der Meulen, R; Okell, L; Piriou, E; Lassovski, M; Bakula, E; Badio, C; Roper, C; Bousema, T; Ouabo, A; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-12-18)
      Background Sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine (SP) is a cornerstone of malaria chemoprophylaxis and is considered for programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, SP efficacy is threatened by drug resistance, that is conferred by mutations in the dhfr and dhps genes. The World Health Organization has specified that intermittent preventive treatment for infants (IPTi) with SP should be implemented only if the prevalence of the dhps K540E mutation is under 50%. There are limited current data on the prevalence of resistance-conferring mutations available from Eastern DRC. The current study aimed to address this knowledge gap. Methods Dried blood-spot samples were collected from clinically suspected malaria patients [outpatient department (OPD)] and pregnant women attending antenatal care (ANC) in four sites in North and South Kivu, DRC. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) was performed on samples from individuals with positive and with negative rapid diagnostic test (RDT) results. Dhps K450E and A581G and dhfr I164L were assessed by nested PCR followed by allele-specific primer extension and detection by multiplex bead-based assays. Results Across populations, Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence was 47.9% (1160/2421) by RDT and 71.7 (1763/2421) by qPCR. Median parasite density measured by qPCR in RDT-negative qPCR-positive samples was very low with a median of 2.3 parasites/µL (IQR 0.5–25.2). Resistance genotyping was successfully performed in RDT-positive samples and RDT-negative/qPCR-positive samples with success rates of 86.2% (937/1086) and 55.5% (361/651), respectively. The presence of dhps K540E was high across sites (50.3–87.9%), with strong evidence for differences between sites (p < 0.001). Dhps A581G mutants were less prevalent (12.7–47.2%). The dhfr I164L mutation was found in one sample. Conclusions The prevalence of the SP resistance marker dhps K540E exceeds 50% in all four study sites in North and South Kivu, DRC. K540E mutations regularly co-occurred with mutations in dhps A581G but not with the dhfr I164L mutation. The current results do not support implementation of IPTi with SP in the study area.
    • A review of the WHO malaria rapid diagnostic test product testing programme (2008–2018): performance, procurement and policy

      Cunningham, J; Jones, S; Gatton, M; Barnwell, J; Cheng, Q; Chiodini, P; Glenn, J; Gonzalez, I; Kosack, C; Nhem, S; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-12-02)
      Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) emerged in the early 1990s into largely unregulated markets, and uncertain field performance was a major concern for the acceptance of tests for malaria case management. This, combined with the need to guide procurement decisions of UN agencies and WHO Member States, led to the creation of an independent, internationally coordinated RDT evaluation programme aiming to provide comparative performance data of commercially available RDTs. Products were assessed against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax samples diluted to two densities, along with malaria-negative samples from healthy individuals, and from people with immunological abnormalities or non-malarial infections. Three measures were established as indicators of performance, (i) panel detection score (PDS) determined against low density panels prepared from P. falciparum and P. vivax wild-type samples, (ii) false positive rate, and (iii) invalid rate, and minimum criteria defined. Over eight rounds of the programme, 332 products were tested. Between Rounds 1 and 8, substantial improvements were seen in all performance measures. The number of products meeting all criteria increased from 26.8% (11/41) in Round 1, to 79.4% (27/34) in Round 8. While products submitted to further evaluation rounds under compulsory re-testing did not show improvement, those voluntarily resubmitted showed significant increases in P. falciparum (p = 0.002) and P. vivax PDS (p < 0.001), with more products meeting the criteria upon re-testing. Through this programme, the differentiation of products based on comparative performance, combined with policy changes has been influential in the acceptance of malaria RDTs as a case-management tool, enabling a policy of parasite-based diagnosis prior to treatment. Publication of product testing results has produced a transparent market allowing users and procurers to clearly identify appropriate products for their situation, and could form a model for introduction of other, broad-scale diagnostics.