Abstract Background Diagnosis of malaria is usually based on samples of peripheral blood. However, it is unclear whether capillary (CAP) or venous (VEN) blood samples provide better diagnostic performance. Quantitative differences of parasitemia between CAP and VEN blood and diagnostic performance characteristics were investigated. Methods Patients were recruited between September 2015 and February 2016 in Gabon. Light microscopy and qPCR quantified parasitemia of paired CAP and VEN samples, whose preparation followed the exact same methodology. CAP and VEN performance characteristics using microscopy were evaluated against a qPCR gold-standard. Results Microscopy revealed a median (IQR) parasites/L of 495 (853,243) in CAP and 429 (524,074) in VEN samples manifesting in a +16.6% (p=0.04) higher CAPparasitemia compared with VENparasitemia. Concordantly, qPCR demonstrated that -0.278 (p=0.006) cycles were required for signal detection in CAP samples. CAPsensitivity of microscopy relative to the gold-standard was 81.5% (77.485.6%) versus VENsensitivity of 73.4% (68.878.1%), while CAPspecificity and VENspecificity were 91%. CAPsensitivity and VENsensitivity dropped to 63.3% and 45.9%, respectively for a sub-population of low-level parasitemias while specificities were 92%. Conclusions CAP sampling leads to higher parasitemias compared to VEN sampling and improves diagnostic sensitivity. These findings may have important implications for routine diagnostics, research and elimination campaigns of malaria. Malaria, plasmodium, diagnostics, sensitivity, specificity, microscopy, qPCR, capillary, venous © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
The Journal of Infectious Diseases – Oxford University Press
Published: May 25, 2018
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