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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2002 Mar;9(2):378-82.

Development and evaluation of an in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for early diagnosis and monitoring of human pythiosis.

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Clinical Immunology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.


Human pythiosis is an emerging, fatal, infectious disease caused by Pythium insidiosum and occurs in both tropical and subtropical countries. Thalassemic patients, farmers, and aquatic-habitat residents are predisposed to this disease. Delayed treatment due to the long time required for isolation and identification of the causative organism, as well as the difficulty in obtaining internal organ specimens, results in high morbidity and mortality. To facilitate rapid diagnosis, an in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the detection of immunoglobulin G antibodies against P. insidiosum was developed and evaluated for the diagnosis and monitoring of human pythiosis. Sixteen sera were collected from seven culture-proven human pythiosis cases. A total of 142 sera from thalassemic patients, from patients with other infectious diseases, and from healthy blood donors served as controls. All sera were tested in duplicate. By choosing a suitable cutoff point to maximize sensitivity and specificity, sera from pythiosis cases were all determined to be positive, whereas sera from control groups were all determined to be negative. ELISA signals from serial samples of sera taken from treated patients showed gradually declining levels of antibodies to P. insidiosum. The ELISA test was highly sensitive (100%) and specific (100%) and was useful for early diagnosis and for monitoring the treatment for pythiosis.

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