The diagnostic value of the Widal test was assessed in an endemic area. The test was done on 300 normal individuals, 297 non-typhoidal fevers and 275 bacteriologically proven cases of typhoid. Of 300 normal individuals, 2% had an H agglutinin titre of 1/160 and 5% had an O agglutinin titre of 1/160. On the basis of these criteria a significant H and/or O agglutinin titre of 1/320 or more was observed in 93-97% of typhoid cases and in only 3% of patients with non-typhoidal fever. Of the sera from typhoid cases which gave a significant Widal reaction, the majority (79.9%) showed increases in both H and O agglutinins and 51 of 234 (21.8%) of these sera were collected in the first week of illness. The significance and implications of these findings are discussed.
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