A passive haemagglutination test, using sheep red blood cells sensitised with Salmonella typhi lipopolysaccharide, was compared with the Widal test for the serological diagnosis of typhoid fever in an endemic area. The results obtained on sera from 152 patients with bacteriologically confirmed typhoid and 183 patients who did not have typhoid were analysed in terms of sensitivity, specificity, simplicity, and rapidity of the respective tests. The passive haemagglutination test was found to be more sensitive (80%) than the S typhi O antigen (71%) but marginally less sensitive than the H antigen (82%) of the Widal test. The false positive rate on control sera was 1.2% and 6.6%, respectively, for the Widal O and H antigens, and 1.6% for the passive haemagglutination test. Our findings indicate that the passive haemagglutination test is comparable with the Widal test for the serological diagnosis of typhoid fever in endemic areas, but is more simple, rapid, and economic. The passive haemagglutination test may be a useful alternative to the Widal test for the serological diagnosis of typhoid fever in busy microbiology laboratories in areas in which the disease is endemic.
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