Six techniques were compared to find the most suitable method for determining the cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody status of blood donors. Five hundred and ninety-six random sera were tested by immunofluorescence (IF), complement fixation (CFT), two enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), a commercial indirect haemagglutination test (IHA)--used as supplied, and a locally devised micromodification of the same IHA test. Five hundred and thirty-five sera shared total agreement of results by all tests. The ELISA tests were the most discordant with other methods (10.5% discordancies both positive and negative). IF and CFT correlated well with other tests (0.8% discordances each) but for different reasons are unsatisfactory for donor screening. The IHA test used as supplied and its micromodification gave the most consistent results (0.8% and 0.5% discordancies respectively). The micromodification is easy to perform and read; it compares very favourably with CFT and IF for material costs and expertise required, and readily lends itself to the testing of large numbers of sera in a reasonable time. Within certain provisos the micro-IHA technique described is recommended as the most suitable test for blood donor screening.
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