Counter-current immunoelectrohporesis is a rapid sensitive method for detecting pneumococcal capsular antigens in sputum. A result can be obtained within 45 minutes. The optimum conditions for performing the test are given. Counter-current immunoelectrophoresis works with all the 33 pneumococcal antigens tested except type 14. Better precipitin lines are obtained when the gel-support is acid (pH 6-6) than when it is alkaline (pH 8-6). Omniserum is as effective as group-specific sera for the identification of pneumococcal capsular antigens. The findings suggest that pneumococcal infection was present in 44% of 300 unselected suspected chest infections. Culture for pneumococci was positive in only 15% of these cases. The clinical importance of these findings is still being studied but our experience has shown that patients with chest infections should have effective antipneumococcal antibiotics as part of their regimen and that the laboratory diagnosis may be made quickly and accurately by counter-current immunoelectrophoresis.
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