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Acta Trop. 1999 Oct 15;73(3):263-73.

Comparison of a rapid field immunochromatographic test to expert microscopy for the detection of Plasmodium falciparum asexual parasitemia in Thailand.

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Department of Immunology & Medicine, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangkok, Thailand.


We assessed a rapid, Plasmodium falciparum histidine rich protein 2 (PfHRP2)-based immunochromatographic test (ICT Malaria Pf Test), for detection of asexual P. falciparum parasitemia in 551 subjects in three groups: (1) symptomatic patients self-referring for diagnosis, (2) villagers in a screening survey, and (3) patients recently treated for P. falciparum malaria. Expert light microscopy was the reference standard. ICT test performance was similar for diagnostic and screening modes. Four findings emerged: (1) test sensitivity correlated directly with parasite density, (2) test band intensity correlated directly with parasite density, (3) persistent test positivity after parasite clearance precludes its use for monitoring early therapeutic responses, and (4) a false negative test at 18,000 parasites/microl is unexplained. We conclude that a strong positive ICT test is highly predictive of falciparum asexual parasitemia for the diagnosis of new cases of falciparum malaria in Thailand, but a negative test result is inadequate to exclude parasitemia < 300/microl, and in some instances, even a higher parasitemia.

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