The diagnosis of trypanosomosis in animals with low parasitaemia is hampered by low diagnostic sensitivity of traditional detection methods. An immunodiagnostic method based on a direct sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), using monoclonal antibodies, has been examined in a number of African
laboratories for its suitability for monitoring tsetse control and eradication programmes. Generally, the direct sandwich ELISAs for the detection of trypanosomal antigens in serum samples have proved to be unsatisfactory with respect to diagnostic sensitivity when compared with traditional parasitological methods such as the dark ground/phase contrast buffy-coat technique. Consequently, antigen-detection systems exploiting various other direct, indirect and sandwich ELISA systems and sets of reagents are being developed to improve diagnosis. In addition, an existing indirect ELISA for the detection of antibodies has been improved and is being evaluated in the field in order to detect cattle that are or have been recently infected with trypanosomes. Developments and advantages of other diagnostic techniques, such as dip-stick assay and tests based on the polymerase chain reaction are also considered.