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Differential diagnosis of Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium, which often occur sympatrically in Africa, requires both urine and stool and the procedures are low in sensitivity. The standard diagnostic tests, such as Kato-Katz (KK) for S. mansoni eggs and presence of haematuria for S. haematobium both lack sensitivity, produce false-negative results and show reduced accuracy with decreasing intensity of infection. The need for a single diagnostic test with high sensitivity and specificity for both parasites is important as many African countries are implementing Mass Drug Administration (MDA) following recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). Eighty-six samples of urine sediment obtained by filtration were collected from a group of 5–23 years old people from an endemic area of southern Ghana. DNA was extracted from the urine sediment on filter paper from which a species-specific repeat fragment was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with specific primers for S. mansoni and for S. haematobium. Additionally, all participants were tested by KK (stool) and dipstick for haematuria. Diagnostic parameters for all three tests were analyzed statistically. Amplification of species-specific DNA by PCR showed much higher sensitivity (99%–100%) and specificity (100%) compared to KK and haematuria (sensitivity: 76% and 30% respectively) for both schistosome species. The same pattern was observed when the data were stratified for age group and sex specific analysis. In addition PCR amplification detected DNA from 11 individuals infected with both parasites who were negative by KK and haematuria. This approach of detecting parasite specific DNA from either or both species in a single urine specimen is a practical advantage that avoids the need for two specimens and is more effective than standard tests including those based on serology. This promises to improve the effectiveness of surveillance of MDA control programs of schistosomiasis.
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