Longevity of Antibody Responses to a Salmonella typhi-Specific Outer Membrane Protein: Interpretation of a Dot Enzyme Immunosorbent Assay in an Area of High Typhoid Fever Endemicity

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  • Department of Paediatrics and Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Department of Medicine, Fremantle Hospital, University of Western Australia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia

The objective of this study was to investigate the longevity of positive dot enzyme immunosorbent assay (dot EIA) results for IgM and IgG to a Salmonella typhi outer membrane protein in Malaysian children with enteric fever. The patients were children one month to 12 years of age with clinical evidence of typhoid fever, positive blood or stool cultures for S. typhi, and/or a positive Widal test result who were admitted over a two-year period to General Hospital (Kota Bharu, Malaysia). These patients received standard inpatient treatment for enteric fever including chloramphenicol therapy for 14 days. Dot EIA tests were performed as part of clinical and laboratory assessments on admission, at two weeks, and then at 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 21 months postdischarge. Assessment of the longevity of positive dot EIA IgM and IgG titers was done by Kaplan-Meier analysis. In 94 evaluable patients, 28% were dot EIA IgM positive but IgG negative on admission, 50% were both IgM and IgG positive, and 22% were IgM negative and IgG positive. Mean persistence of IgM dot EIA positivity was 2.6 months (95% confidence interval = 2.0–3.1 months) and that of IgG was 5.4 months (4.5–6.3 months). There were no significant differences between the three subgroups. Thus, positive IgM and IgG results determined by dot EIA within four and seven months, respectively, following documented or suspected enteric fever in a child from an endemic area should be interpreted with caution. In other clinical situations, the dot EIA remains a rapid and reliable aid to diagnosis.