Three methods, microscopy, nested polymerase chain reaction (nPCR), and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) have been applied for malaria diagnosis in 105 human blood samples collected in Northern Thailand. Only Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections were detected. A total number of 57 positives (54%) could be detected for P. falciparum and 25 (24%) for P. vivax when all samples that were positive in any of the three methods are counted together. The nPCR was used as a reference standard for comparison with the other methods, microscopy and LAMP. The sensitivity of LAMP for P. falciparum was 100%. All nPCR-negative samples for P. falciparum were also negative by both microscopy and LAMP (specificity, 100%). For diagnosis of P. vivax, microscopy detected 15 of 23 nPCR-positive samples (sensitivity, 65%). LAMP detected 22 of 23 nPCR-positives (sensitivity, 96%). Among the 82 nPCR-negative samples microscopy detected two samples (specificity, 98%). All 82 nPCR-negative were also negative by the LAMP method (specificity, 100%). Both Plasmodium genus- and species-specific LAMP primer sets yielded the same results in all samples. There were no significant differences in the prevalence detected by each method. We assume that LAMP was as reliable as nPCR and more reliable than microscopy in the detection of Plasmodium DNA tested in the examined Thai field blood samples. This study further validates LAMP as an alternative molecular diagnostic tool, which can be used in the diagnosis of early infections of malaria cases and together with nPCR can also be used as supplementary methods for clinical and epidemiological use.
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