Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rapid tests for malaria may improve

Date:
June 22, 2011
Source:
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Summary:
Rapid diagnostic tests for malaria are simple, reliable and robust. But errors occur, through misuse or because they aren't designed for primitive circumstances. Recent research put them to the test and resulted in a series of suggestions for improvement.

Rapid diagnostic tests for malaria are simple, reliable and robust. But errors occur, through misuse or because they aren't designed for primitive circumstances. Researcher Philippe Gillet put them to the test and made a series of suggestions for improvement. It resulted in a PhD at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp and Maastricht University.

Malaria is caused by a Plasmodium parasite infecting red blood cells. Humans can be infected by five species of Plasmodium, but most cases are caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The parasites are transmitted by blood-sucking mosquitoes. Worldwide, some 225 million people have malaria and 780 000 people a year die from it. This makes malaria the number one cause of death worldwide. Until recently treatment was initiated based on clinical suspicion, but since a few years the World Health Organisation advises to start treatment only after laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis. Then a microscopic blood examination is needed, demanding tools, time and experts. Therefore in tropical circumstances often a rapid diagnostic test is used, applying a drop of blood to a strip and waiting for some coloured lines to appear, a bit like a pregnancy test. Very helpful in the field, but no panacea.

Existing tests for instance are not powerful enough to differentiate between P. falciparum and P. vivax, a parasite from the subtropics (even if their label and even brand name suggest differently). Not all tests react good to high concentrations of parasites -- strangely enough, this overloading leads to a negative result or a very weak line, often read by inexperienced users as "no malaria."

And not only by inexperienced users. More people than one thinks need reading glasses, certainly in the tropics, where presbyopia starts earlier in life. But many don't have them…

In the field, people sometimes replace the liquid (the 'buffer') in the test by tap water, or by the buffer of a different kit. Because the flask was empty, or lost, or swapped. Gillet discovered that the rapid tests then see malaria where there isn't.

The rapid tests also aren't suitable to see if a treatment catches on. Some tests read positive up to weeks after the infection, even when in the mean time the infection is under control.

Gillet also criticises design and packaging: instructions in small print and in a complicated jargon, unclear reading scales, awkward pipettes. "All of it easily and cheaply to remediate. It already would make a large difference if WHO and EU would sharpen their rules for registration."

Though not everything should be blamed on the manufacturers. When Gillet in Belgium, Congo, Cuba and Cambodia asked health workers about the international danger symbols on the products, less than half of them could give the right answers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Philippe Gillet, Annelies Scheirlinck, Jocelijn Stokx, Anja De Weggheleire, Helder S Chauque, Oreana DJV Canhanga, Benvindo T Tadeu, Carla DD Mosse, Armindo Tiago, Samuel Mabunda, Cathrien Bruggeman, Emmanuel Bottieau, Jan Jacobs. Prozone in malaria rapid diagnostics tests: how many cases are missed? Malaria Journal, 2011; 10 (1): 166 DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-10-166
  2. Philippe Gillet, Jessica Maltha, Veerle Hermans, Raffaella Ravinetto, Cathrien Bruggeman, Jan Jacobs. Malaria rapid diagnostic kits: quality of packaging, design and labelling of boxes and components and readability and accuracy of information inserts. Malaria Journal, 2011; 10 (1): 39 DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-10-39

Cite This Page:

Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. "Rapid tests for malaria may improve." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622045141.htm>.
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. (2011, June 22). Rapid tests for malaria may improve. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622045141.htm
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. "Rapid tests for malaria may improve." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622045141.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins