BACKGROUND: Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common fungal pathogen to infect the central nervous system, and an effective diagnostic method is therefore necessary for the early diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis.
AIM: The efficacy of India ink preparation, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture and CSF cryptococcal antigen detection by the latex agglutination test for diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis are compared to determine the most efficient test.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two hundred CSF samples from human immunodeficiency virus - positive patients suspected to be suffering from meningitis were screened for Cryptococcus neoformans.
RESULTS: Latex agglutination for cryptococcal antigen detection was found to be more sensitive compared to India ink staining and CSF culture.
CONCLUSIONS: Antigen detection by latex agglutination proved to be both sensitive and specific method for the diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis. Rapid, early diagnosis of infection by detection of cryptococcal antigen by latex agglutination may alter the prognosis for these patients.