A simple and rapid test, the card indirect agglutination trypanosomiasis test (TrypTect CIATT®) is described, for detecting circulating antigens in persons suffering from Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense infection by latex agglutination. The sensitivity of the test (95·8% for T. b. gambiense and 97·7% for T. b. rhodesiense) was significantly higher than that of lymph node puncture, microhaematocrit centrifugation and cerebrospinal fluid examination after single and double centrifugation. The specificity of the test was also high: 106 blood donor sera as well as sera from 37 patients with malaria, 25 with visceral leishmaniasis, 10 with schistosomiasis, 5 with filariasis and 10 with hydatid disease, from trypanosomiasis-free areas, gave negative results. Eighteen clinical suspects from active disease transmission foci, without microscopically detectable parasitaemia but with a positive test result, were further examined by lumbar puncture and inoculation of blood into mice; 11 (61%) were found to be infected, suggesting that the test had a high positive predictive value. This study showed that TrypTect CIATT® is a useful test for rapid diagnosis of both patent and non-patent T. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense infections.

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