Malaria diagnosis by dipstick assay in a Honduran population with coendemic Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax.

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  • 1 Department of Entomology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, District of Columbia 20307-5100, USA.

A Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase dipstick designed to separately detect P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria was evaluated in two Honduran populations where both species are endemic. The dipstick was compared to thick film microscopy; the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to analyze discordant results. The dipstick had a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 95% compared with microscopy in the diagnosis of Plasmodium infections in a hospital population; the mean parasite density was approximately 590/mm3. In a field sample of mostly asymptomatic volunteers, the sensitivity of the dipstick for Plasmodium infection varied with parasite density. Additionally, the sensitivity and specificity of the dipstick was similar to thick film microscopy in the diagnosis of vivax malaria compared with the PCR. The dipstick was unable to detect P. vivax in the presence of P. falciparum because of cross-reactivity in the pan-specific band. Accurate species identification in mixed infections remains a problem in malaria diagnosis.

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