Potential for community based surveillance of febrile diseases: Feasibility of self-administered rapid diagnostic tests in Iquitos, Peru and Phnom Penh, Cambodia

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2021 Apr 26;15(4):e0009307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009307. eCollection 2021 Apr.


Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) have the potential to identify infectious diseases quickly, minimize disease transmission, and could complement and improve surveillance and control of infectious and vector-borne diseases during outbreaks. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Joint Science and Technology Office (DTRA-JSTO) program set out to develop novel point-of-need RDTs for infectious diseases and deploy them for home use with no training. The aim of this formative study was to address two questions: 1) could community members in Iquitos, Peru and Phnom Penh, Cambodia competently use RDTs of different levels of complexity at home with visually based instructions provided, and 2) if an RDT were provided at no cost, would it be used at home if family members displayed febrile symptoms? Test kits with written and video (Peru only) instructions were provided to community members (Peru [n = 202]; Cambodia [n = 50]) or community health workers (Cambodia [n = 45]), and trained observers evaluated the competency level for each of the several steps required to successfully operate one of two multiplex RDTs on themselves or other consenting participant (i.e., family member). In Iquitos, >80% of residents were able to perform 11/12 steps and 7/15 steps for the two- and five-pathogen test, respectively. Competency in Phnom Penh never reached 80% for any of the 12 or 15 steps for either test; the percentage of participants able to perform a step ranged from 26-76% and 23-72%, for the two- and five-pathogen tests, respectively. Commercially available NS1 dengue rapid tests were distributed, at no cost, to households with confirmed exposure to dengue or Zika virus; of 14 febrile cases reported, six used the provided RDT. Our findings support the need for further implementation research on the appropriate level of instructions or training needed for diverse devices in different settings, as well as how to best integrate RDTs into existing local public health and disease surveillance programs at a large scale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cambodia
  • Dengue / diagnosis
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Education / methods
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Facilities
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Malaria / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Melioidosis / diagnosis
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Peru
  • Plague / diagnosis
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Young Adult