We tested 222 serum samples obtained from 51 patients presenting with syphilis, before and after treatment; 117 from 65 patients with a history of syphilis (114) or yaws (3); 77 from 71 patients with no evidence of syphilis; and 1117 serologically negative serum samples. Our tests included the IgM fluorescent treponemal antibody absorbed (IgM-FTA-ABS) and solid phase haemadsorption assay (SPHA) techniques. According to the stage of development of syphilis, IgM antibodies were found in 83-100% of the serum samples. This permitted a precise diagnosis to be made and cure assessed. As IgM antibodies were absent in serum from patients with healed syphilis, resolved syphilis could be distinguished from developing syphilis. The sensitivity (92%) of the IgM-FTA-ABS test was comparable with that of the SPHA (96%), but the SPHA was more specific (97.4%) than the IgM-FTA-ABS test (89.61%).
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