Rapid in Vivo Detection of Chloroquine Resistance by the Quantitative Buffy Coat Malaria Diagnosis System

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  • Institut National Recherche Biologique, Department of Parasitology and Tropical Pathology, Universite Claude Bernard, Becton Dickinson and Company, Mama Mobutu Hospital, Becton Dickinson and Company, Kinshasa, Zaire
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The use of the Giemsa-stained thick blood smear for the diagnosis of malaria has not been supplanted since the discovery of the parasite by A. Laveran in 1880. Recently, a new direct diagnosis technique, the Quantitative Buffy Coat (QBC®) Malaria Diagnosis System, has been developed. We compared this technique with the thick blood smear diagnosis in a study of the efficacy of chloroquine therapy in Zaire. A total of 815 subjects were screened; 71 participated in the trial. They were given chloroquine at a dose of 25 mg/kg of body weight over three days and were examined for parasitemia two and seven days after treatment. Chloroquine resistance was detected in 38% of the subjects by thick blood smear and in 45% by the QBC test. Of greater interest was the time required for each diagnosis: an average of 17 min was required to examine microscopic fields with 1,000 leukocytes by thick blood smear analysis compared with less than one min by the QBC system. In addition, we did not observe diminished attention from fatigue by microscopists using the QBC system despite the large number of tests conducted. We conclude that the QBC system is an important tool for studies of drug resistance.