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Detection of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense in sleeping sickness suspects by PCR amplification of expression-site-associated genes 6 and 7

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We have developed a sensitive and specific method to identify Trypanosoma brucei ssp. using PCR to amplify conserved expression-site-associated gene 6 and 7 DNA target sequences. Amplification of 10% of the DNA in a single trypanosome produced sufficient PCR product to be visible as a band in an agarose gel stained with ethidium bromide. We analysed 59 blood samples of serologically positive cases of sleeping sickness by PCR, and directed parasitological examination of tissue fluids. The PCR test detected 87% of the parasitologically positive cases, with a specificity of 97%. In 5 cases, the parasite was demonstrated by the PCR test 4–6 months prior to parasitological detection. This result shows the potential of the assay in early diagnosis of actual T. b. gambiense infections in apparently aparasitaemic sleeping sickness patients.

Keywords: ESAG; Trypanosoma brucei; expression-site-associated genes; polymerase chain reaction; sleeping sickness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Abteilung Parasitologie, Hygiene-Institut der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Germany 2: Trypanosomiasis Control Centre, Bata, Equatorial Guinea and Fundaciò CIDOB, Barcelona, Spain 3: Hospital Muxima, Muxima, Angola and Medicus Mundi Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain 4: Hospital de Kogo, Kogo, Equatorial Guinea and A.A.M. Iradier, Gaztei, Spain

Publication date: October 1, 1999


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