Reverse passive haemagglutination, a novel microtitre based assay, was compared with the Streptex (Wellcome UK) latex slide agglutination kit for streptococcal grouping in a diagnostic microbiology laboratory. Three hundred and fifty two extracts from 349 consecutive primary isolation plates were assayed by both methods. Reverse passive haemagglutination gave identical grouping results for 98.0% of the 345 streptococci identified by Streptex, and the kappa coefficient of agreement between the methods for all 352 extracts tested was 0.973. Cross reactions with Listeria spp seen with Streptex were not found by reverse passive haemagglutination. In the reverse passive haemagglutination method 11 streptococci could be grouped on each 96-well plate and most reactions were stable for at least 30 minutes. Reverse passive haemagglutination is more rapid to perform than latex slide agglutination when many organisms are to be grouped, and the patterns of haemagglutination are easily recognised. If the method was taken into routine use in a diagnostic laboratory, the persistence of reverse passive haemagglutination reactions would enable grouping results to be checked for quality control purposes.
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