Journal of clinical microbiology vol:44 issue:8 pages:2884-2889
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) or sleeping sickness is a neglected disease that affects poor rural populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Confirmation of diagnosis is based on detection of parasites in either blood or lymph by microscopy. Here we present the development and the first-phase evaluation of a simple and rapid test (HAT-PCR-OC [human African trypanosomiasis-PCR-oligochromatography]) for detection of amplified Trypanosoma brucei DNA. PCR products are visualized on a dipstick through hybridization with a gold-conjugated probe (oligochromatography). Visualization is straightforward and takes only 5 min. Controls both for the PCR and for DNA migration are incorporated into the assay. The lower detection limit of the test is 5 fg of pure T. brucei DNA. One parasite in 180 microl of blood is still detectable. Sensitivity and specificity for T. brucei were calculated at 100% when tested on blood samples from 26 confirmed sleeping sickness patients, 18 negative controls (nonendemic region), and 50 negative control blood samples from an endemic region. HAT-PCR-OC is a promising new tool for diagnosis of sleeping sickness in laboratory settings, and the diagnostic format described here may have wider application for other infectious diseases.