Fever Evaluation Tests

Fever Evaluation Tests

 

Definition

Fever evaluation tests, better known as febrile agglutinins tests, are performed to detect the presence of antibodies in the blood that are sensitive to temperature changes. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to specific infectious agents, such as viruses or bateria. Febrile agglutinins are antibodies that cause red blood cells to clump, but only when the blood is warmed to temperatures higher than the average body temperature of 98.6 °F (37 °C).

Purpose

The febrile agglutinins test is used to confirm the diagonsis of certain infectious diseases that stimulate the body to produce febrile agglutinins. The disease most commonly diagnosed by this test is brucellosis, a infection caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Brucella and characterized by intermittent fever, sweating, chills, aches, and mental depression. The test is also used to diagnose certain other infectious diseases: salmonellosis, caused by Salmonella bacteria and marked by nausea and severe diarrhea; rickettsial infections, a group of diseases caused by the bacteria Rickettsia; and tularemia, also called rabbit fever, a bacterial infection characterized by a high fever and swollen lymph nodes. The febrile agglutinins test can also be used to confirm the presence of two types of cancer, leukemia and lymphoma; however, doctors rarely use the test for this purpose, since other diagnostic tests are more reliable.

Description

A febrile agglutinins test can be performed at a doctor's office or a hospital. A nurse or technician will collect a few drops of blood (about 7ml) in a small tube that has been cooled slightly. The specimen is then taken to a laboratory where it heated and examined for clumping. If the cells clump after warming and unclump as they cool, a febrile agglutinin titer (concentration) of greater than 1:80 is present.

Normal results

The results of febrile agglutinins tests require a doctor's interpretation. In general, however, a normal value is lower than 1:32.

Abnormal results

An value higher than 1:80 suggests a diagnosis for brucellosis or one of the other conditions indicated by this test.