Syphilis diagnostic test ato ease microbiology laboratory workload'

1st April 2013

One of the UK Government's goals for improving the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infection (STI) is to reduce waiting time.

In the recently published Choosing Health, Making Healthy Choices Easier white paper is that by 2008 everyone referred to a Genito-Urinary Medicine clinic should have an appointment within 48 hours (a target that is only being met at present in 38percent of referrals)1. It is therefore likely that microbiology laboratories will see an increased demand for STI testing.

In the recent outbreak of infectious syphilis in Gloucestershire, UK, 18 cases were diagnosed and treated between January and October 2004. This compares with one case in 2003 and none in 2001 and 20022) and is a reminder of the importance of the swift detection of the atraditional' sexually transmitted diseases.

Diagnosed syphilis infection rates in the UK between 2002 and 2003 rose by 28percent3.

Oxoid Diagnostic Reagent Kits provide laboratories with inexpensive and rapid tools for the diagnosis of syphilis.

Oxoid VDRL Carbon Antigen Test (DR0525M/DR0526M) is a rapid agglutination test used to detect non-treponemal reagin antibodies. The sample is spread onto circles on the test cards provided and antigen added. Positives are seen as large aggregates in the test circle, negatives give a macroscopically smooth, even appearance.

Oxoid TPHA test (DR0530M) is a haemagglutination test for the detection of antibodies to Treponema pallidum (the causative organism of syphilis) in serum and is performed in a microtitre plate. Agglutinated cells form an even layer over the well bottom. Agglutination of the test cells but not the control cells indicates the presence of specific antibodies to T.pallidum.

Syphilis is normally diagnosed by the detection of antibody specific for Treponema pallidum in the patient's blood or cerebro spinal fluid. Detection of the antibody becomes possible after

3-4 weeks following infection.

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