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Comparative assessment of seller’s staining test (SST) and direct fluorescent antibody test for rapid and accurate laboratory diagnosis of rabies

Ishaya S. Tekki
Zhakum N. Ponfa
Chika I. Nwosuh
Peterside R. Kumbish
Clement L. Jonah
Philip A. Okewole
David Shamaki
Sani M. Ahmed


Background: Rabies causes 55, 000 annual human deaths globally and about 10,000 people are exposed annually in Nigeria. Diagnosis of animal rabies in most African countries has been by direct microscopic examination. In Nigeria, the Seller’s stain test (SST) was employed until 2009. Before then, both SST and dFAT were used concurrently until the dFAT became the only standard method.

Objective: This study was designed to assess the sensitivity and specificity of the SST in relation to the ‘gold standard’ dFAT in diagnosis of rabies in Nigeria.

Methods: A total of 88 animal specimens submitted to the Rabies National Reference Laboratory, Nigeria were routinely tested for rabies by SST and dFAT.

Results: Overall, 65.9% of the specimens were positive for rabies by SST, while 81.8% were positive by dFAT. The sensitivity of SST in relation to the gold standard dFAT was 81.0% (95% CIs; 69.7% - 88.6%), while the specificity was 100% (95% CIs; 76% - 100%).

Conclusion: The relatively low sensitivity of the SST observed in this study calls for its replacement with the dFAT for accurate diagnosis of rabies and timely decisions on administration of PEP to prevent untimely deaths of exposed humans.

Keywords: Seller’s Staining Test, direct fluorescent antibody test, rabies, diagnosis, Nigeria

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905