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Indian J Med Microbiol. 2018 Oct-Dec;36(4):541-546. doi: 10.4103/ijmm.IJMM_18_394.

High-sensitivity detection of human malaria parasites by the use of rapid diagnostic tests and nested polymerase chain reaction in burdened communities of North East India.

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Department of Microbiology, Assam University, Silchar, Assam, India.


Background and Objectives:

The study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic performance of malaria through microscopy and rapid diagnostic test (RDT) analysis performed locally and the accuracy evaluated by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for diagnosis of Plasmodium falciparum from hotspot regions of North East (NE) India.

Materials and Methods:

One thousand one hundred and seventy-three blood samples were collected for identification of P. falciparum infection using microscopy and RDT analysis. DNA was extracted from whole blood using QIAamp DNA blood mini kit, and nested PCR was performed to confirm P. falciparum for evaluating sensitivity and specificity from various epidemiological surveys and geographical areas of NE India.


Of 1173 symptomatic malaria suspected patients, 15.6% (183/1173) patients were diagnosed as malaria positive by RDT and 67.94% cases (53/78) with microscopy. Of 183 malaria-positive patients, 42.62% (78/183) were diagnosed with P. falciparum and 84.61% (66/78) further confirmed to be P. falciparum positive by nested PCR. High sensitivity (97.9%) and low specificity (2.03%) of the RDT and high sensitivity (99.1%) and low specificity (0.9%) in microscopy against nested PCR results was statistically significant (P < 0.05). Epidemiological comparisons expressed highest incidences in Manipur (51.11%) followed by Meghalaya (48.93%) and Assam (35.16%). Overall incidence rate among the genders was observed to be higher in males than in females.


Our findings suggest that PCR, RDT and microscopy can potentially determine hotspots at moderate transmission intensities, but PCR testing has a diagnostic advantage as transmission intensity falls. Therefore, malaria control programs should consider PCR testing when the prevalence of infection is low.


Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; polymerase chain reaction; rapid diagnostic tests


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