Quakyi, I. A., Adjei, G. O., Sullivan, D. J., Laar, A., Stephens, J. K., Owusu, R., … & Essuman, E. (2018)
This study seeks to compare the performance of HRP2 (First Response) and pLDH/HRP2 (Combo) RDTs for falciparum malaria against microscopy and PCR in acutely ill febrile children at presentation and follow-up.
This is an interventional study that recruited children < 5 years who reported to health facilities with a history of fever within the past 72 h or a documented axillary temperature of 37.5 °C. Using a longitudinal approach, recruitment and follow-up of participants was done between January and May 2012. Based on results of HRP2-RDT screening, the children were grouped into one of the following three categories: (1) tested positive for malaria using RDT and received anti-malarial treatment (group 1, n = 85); (2) tested negative for malaria using RDT and were given anti-malarial treatment by the admitting physician (group 2, n = 74); or, (3) tested negative for malaria using RDT and did not receive any anti-malarial treatment (group 3, n = 101). Independent microscopy, PCR and Combo-RDT tests were done for each sample on day 0 and all follow-up days.
Mean age of the study participants was 22 months and females accounted for nearly 50%. At the time of diagnosis, the mean body temperature was 37.9 °C (range 35–40.1 °C). Microscopic parasite density ranged between 300 and 99,500 parasites/µL. With microscopy as gold standard, the sensitivity of HRP2 and Combo-RDTs were 95.1 and 96.3%, respectively. The sensitivities, specificities and predictive values for RDTs were relatively higher in microscopy-defined malaria cases than in PCR positive-defined cases. On day 0, participants who initially tested negative for HRP2 were positive by microscopy (n = 2), Combo (n = 1) and PCR (n = 17). On days 1 and 2, five of the children in this group (initially HRP2-negative) tested positive by PCR alone. On day 28, four patients who were originally HRP2-negative tested positive for microscopy (n = 2), Combo (n = 2) and PCR (n = 4).
The HRP2/pLDH RDTs showed comparable diagnostic accuracy in children presenting with an acute febrile illness to health facilities in a hard-to-reach rural area in Ghana. Nevertheless, discordant results recorded on day 0 and follow-up visits using the recommended RDTs means improved malaria diagnostic capability in malaria-endemic regions is necessary.