Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Uíge: Rapid Diagnostic Testing

Yesterday I observed a training on rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) for malaria using the Bioline Rapid Test. I volunteered to be tested, so the participants could practice - and so that I could find out if I had malaria. You can have malaria without showing symptoms for several weeks (in at least one strain you can have it for years without knowing). I wanted to be tested before our trip back to the States, because I don´t think that most American doctors know how to test and treat malaria. Malaria medication is not readily available in most American pharmacies; it would have to be specially ordered. So, I was happy to receive a free test.

The training participants were nurses at a hospital in Songo, Uíge. I had to be pricked twice with a lancet because the first nurse couldn´t get the capillary tube to fill correctly. It hurt a little.

When the tube is filled to a certain point, you should place the tube in the small hole on the test. Then you place four drops of a solution in the hole, which makes the blood move up across the testing strip. Kind of like a pregnancy test, one line will appear as a control - to tell you the test is not damaged. Then, if the patient has malaria, a second line will appear. The Bioline test can distinguish between p. falciparum and p. vivax, the two most common species of the malaria parasite. If you have both strains, all three lines will appear.

In squeezing my fingers to fill the capillary tube with blood, the training participant got blood all over my fingers and the table. We had alcohol wipes, but there wasn´t any water in the building so it was about an hour before I could wash my hands.

The test was passed around so the participants could diagnose me.

And I am happy to say I am malaria-free!

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