Reliable DNA based methodologies to determine prevalence of trypanosome species in domestic livestock have been available for over 10 years. Despite this, they are rarely used to generate baseline data for control operations for these diseases in the field. Rather, such operations tend to rely on data which can be generated using low technology methods such as direct observation of parasites by light microscopy. Here we show the pitfalls of relying on such low tech methodology which, although simple in its application, can provide inaccurate and inadequate data on which to base control methodologies. Our analysis of 61 cattle selected for trypanosome carrier status by either microscopy, low PCV or poor condition score, showed that 90% were infected with trypanosomes while 84% of the total were infected with T. brucei. Diagnosis by PCR on buffy coat preparations on Whatman® FTA® matrices was the most sensitive methodology relative to the gold standard, whereas microscopy was the least sensitive.
Keywords: sleeping sickness, human African trypanosomiasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy, PCR.
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