Sera from 200 pregnant women, with symptoms suggestive of vaginitis and harbouring yeast in the vagina, were examined for precipitating antibodies to three antigens of C. albicans, using a gel double diffusion test. A high overall incidence of precipitin-positive sera (47.5%) was found compared with an incidence of 18% in the unselected pregnant population previously studied (Stanley, Hurley, and Carroll 1972).
Using the clinicopathological criteria of Carroll, Hurley, and Stanley (1973), a final aetiological diagnosis of C. albicans mycosis was reached in 75 cases and precipitins were demonstrated in 64%. Forty-eight women harbouring C. albicans responded favourably to a single course of antifungal treatment, and probably had mycotic vaginitis. The incidence of precipitins in this group was 42%. C. albicans was isolated from a further 55 of 62 patients, in whom the incidence of precipitins was 32%.
`Booking' sera were investigated from 50 of the 200 women studied. Sixty-four per cent of women had symptoms of vaginitis at booking and 32% were precipitin positive. Twenty-eight per cent had precipitins on both occasions, and a further 24% acquired candida precipitins during pregnancy.
None of the seven newborn with oral or skin thrush had precipitins to C. albicans.
The results indicate that the detection of precipitating antibodies to C. albicans, particularly to all three of the antigens described in this paper, would be a useful additional criterion in the diagnosis of candida vaginitis, particularly if the vaginitis were persistent, recurrent, or unresponsive to therapy. The sensitivity of the test system used was 64%, and its specificity 87%; as such, the test is valid and may be reasonably useful as a screening procedure.
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