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Parasite Epidemiology and Control

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Schistosomiasis is an important Neglected Tropical Disease caused by blood parasites called schistosomes. In sub-Saharan Africa, two major human schistosomes, namely Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium, often occur sympatrically and is responsible for almost 90% of the affected 290 million people worldwide. We have utilized a highly sensitive and specific assay by amplifying species-specific cell-free repeat DNA fragments by polymerase chain reaction to detect either single or dual schistosome infection from a single urine sample from a broad age group. In this study, we have tested filtered urine samples collected from 163 individuals aged 3–63 years, mostly children (median age 10), to evaluate the prevalence of single and dual infections for S. mansoni and S. haematobium in Tomefa community in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. 40–50 mL of urine was filtered through a 12.5 cm Whatman # 3 filter paper in the field. The filter papers were dried, packed individually in sealable plastic bags with a desiccant, and shipped to Marquette University, where DNA was isolated and PCR amplification was carried out with species-specific primers. Disease prevalence was found to be 46.6% for S. mansoni and 48.5% for S. haematobium. Most importantly, 23.3% of participants had dual infections. All of the samples were detected without any cross amplification. The data was evaluated for four age groups and infection rate was highest for the age group of 3–12 years, with more S. haematobium infections than S. mansoni infections. We found a high prevalence of both S. haematobium and S. mansoni infection and a significant proportion of dual infection for the Tomefa community, which in most cases would be missed by traditional parasitological examination of urine or stool. Our highly sensitive and specific approach for detecting underlying multiple schistosome infections is an effective means to detect low intensity infections and would enhance the effectiveness of surveillance and Mass Drug Administration control programs of schistosomiasis.


Accepted version. Parasite Epidemiology and Control, Vol. 9 (May 2020): e00130. DOI. © 2020 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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