Comparative Study
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Diagnosis of typhoid fever by polymerase chain reaction.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in detecting Salmonella typhi gene sequences in blood and urine specimens and to determine the cut-off titer of Widal test using PCR as gold standard test for diagnosis of typhoid fever.

METHODS: Study included 71 children between the ages of 8 months and 14 years; 52 of them were suspected cases of typhoid fever, 11 were febrile non-typhoid controls and 8 were apparently healthy children. Nested PCR in Blood and Urine, Blood culture, Widal test and Urine culture were done and their results analyzed.

RESULTS: Among suspected typhoid cases, PCR in blood and urine had positivity of 82.7% each. Blood culture, Widal test (at cut off titer TO and/or TH > 1:160) and urine culture had positivity of 26.9%, 50% and 3.8% respectively. In one case, urine PCR was positive and blood PCR was negative. Similarly, in another case, PCR in blood was positive however urine tested negative. Considering PCR as gold standard, the antibody cut off titer was evaluated. A cut-off titer of TO > 1:80 and/or TH > 1:160 had sensitivity and specificity of 72.7% and 84.2%, while the respective figures were 50% and 89.5% when the cut-off titer was TO and/or TH > 1:160.

CONCLUSION: The sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, likelihood ratios were same for PCR based detection of S. typhi in blood and urine samples. Nested PCR had higher efficacy in detecting typhoid fever than Widal test, blood and urine cultures. A cut off titer of TO > 1:80 and/or TH > 1:160 was found to have better diagnostic value in this region.

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