Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy 2021;: 1 - 6

How effective are rapid diagnostic tests for Chagas disease?

Pinazo MJ, Gascón J, Alonso-Padilla J
Introduction: Diagnosis of chronic Chagas disease relies on the agreement of two conventional serological tests based on distinct antigens. These require cold to preserve reagents and samples, and equipment and trained personnel to run them. Moreover, results turnaround may be delayed for several weeks risking a loss to follow-up of infected subjects, summoning major disadvantages to access diagnosis (and treatment) in many highly endemic areas. Areas covered: Recent studies have shown the versatility of rapid diagnostic tests for the detection of chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infections in referral centers and in field campaigns, with a performance equivalent to that of conventional tools. Remarkably, RDTs do not require cold storage and provide results within an hour. Additionally, they are easy-to-use and can work with a tiny volume of finger-pricked whole blood. Altogether, major advantages toward generalizing their use as an alternative to conventional tests. Expert opinion: Already in 2021, only a small percentage of T. cruzi-infected people are diagnosed and treated. The unsuitability of currently used diagnostics, and of the recommended algorithm, to the conditions found in many regions do not help to fill this gap. RDTs stand as a promising solution, even though geographical validation should precede their implementation.