Volume 37, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


5 November 1986

To the Editor:

As the scientist primarily responsible for developing the latex- test for diagnosis of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), I read with interest the recent report by Kaplan and Schonberger on the sensitivity of various serologic tests for RMSF.

My experience confirms their conclusions that “IFA and IHA appear to be the most sensitive serologic tests currently in use” for RMSF and their observation that diagnosis of RMSF on the basis of clinical and epidemiologic information alone is unreliable. However, I strongly disagree with some of their findings, primarily on the sensitivity of the latex- test, and with their interpretation of positive results on all serologic tests.

The fundamental question is whether a serologic test is intended to establish the presence of antibodies or the presence of disease. In my opinion, interpretation of serodiagnostic results entails two questions: does the patient have antibodies specific to the agent of the disease, and do these antibodies indicate active or past infection?


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