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Diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis by the polymerase chain reaction using blood, bone marrow and lymph node samples from patients from the Sudan

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We have evaluated the sensitivity of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as a diagnostic tool for Leishmania donovani using blood, bone marrow and lymph node samples from Sudanese patients with a confirmed infection. Forty patients were diagnosed by microscopic examination of bone marrow or lymph node samples. The PCR was able to detect parasite DNA in 37 out of 40 blood samples. In bone marrow and lymph node samples, the PCR was able to detect parasite DNA in all 7 and 6 samples, respectively. We suggest that the PCR should be considered as a valuable and sensitive tool for the diagnosis of L. donovani infection. However, if PCR diagnosis is to supplement or even replace microscopic diagnosis in developing countries, a large number of patients with no apparent signs of infection and patients with other diseases have to be tested in order to evaluate its true potential.

Keywords: PCR; diagnosis; visceral leishmaniasis

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Medical Parasitology at Department of Clinical Microbiology, RHIMA University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), Copenhagen, Denmark, 2: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Omdurman Islamic University, Sudan, 3: Institute of Endemic Diseases, University of Khartoum, Sudan, 4: MRC Outstation of NIMR, Molteno Laboratories, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, UK, 5: Institute of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: May 1, 1997


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