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Laboratory diagnosis of leprosy: Two staining methods from bacilloscopy and rapid ml flow test


Background: The diagnosis of leprosy is based on the characteristic signs and symptoms of the disease, subsidized by laboratory tests. When positive, the bacilloscopy closes the diagnosis for leprosy. Phenolic glycolipid-I, or PGL-I, is a molecule in the bacillus cell wall that confers a greater immune response. The ML Flow test is an immunochromatographic test for the detection of anti-PGL-I IgM in human blood or serum.

Methods: A prospective study with data collection and biological materials in patients with suspected leprosy from August 2020 to May 2021. For microscopy, intradermal smears were stained with Auramine O, and after reading under a fluorescence microscope, reviewed by Ziehl-Neelsen. The ML flow test was performed according to the Bührer-Sékula protocol. To assess the agreement between the methods, the Kappa index was estimated.

Results: Of the 94 suspected leprosy patients, 31 (32.9%) were diagnosed with leprosy. There was moderate agreement between the results of the ML Flow and Auramine O tests (Kappa = 0.58) and substantial agreement between the ML Flow and Ziehl-Neelsen microscopy (Kappa = 0.72). In paucibacillary cases, serology was positive in 100% of patients.

Conclusions: This study concluded that the Ziehl-Neelsen technique remains the best option for standard leprosy staining, and the ML flow test is more positive among the three techniques evaluated and can be an effective tool in the early diagnosis of leprosy cases.

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Journal Article
Paro Pedro HS
Ule Belotti N
Tonelli Nardi S
Arco Paschoal V
Martins Montanha J
Gazetta C