Real-time PCR Demonstrates High Prevalence of Schistosoma japonicum in the Philippines: Implications for Surveillance and Control
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Background: The Philippines has a population of approximately 103 million people, of which 6.7 million live in schistosomiasis-endemic areas with 1.8 million people being at risk of infection with Schistosoma japonicum. Although the country-wide prevalence of schistosomiasis japonica in the Philippines is relatively low, the prevalence of schistosomiasis can be high, approaching 65% in some endemic areas. Of the currently available microscopy-based diagnostic techniques for detecting schistosome infections in the Philippines and elsewhere, most exhibit varying diagnostic performances, with the Kato-Katz (KK) method having particularly poor sensitivity for detecting low intensity infections. This suggests that the actual prevalence of schistosomiasis japonica may be much higher than previous reports have indicated. Methodology/Principal Findings: Six barangay (villages) were selected to determine the prevalence of S. japonicum in humans in the municipality of Palapag, Northern Samar. Fecal samples were collected from 560 humans and examined by the KK method and a validated real-time PCR (qPCR) assay. A high S. japonicum prevalence (90.2%) was revealed using qPCR whereas the KK method indicated a lower prevalence (22.9%). The geometric mean eggs per gram (GMEPG) determined by the qPCR was 36.5 and 11.5 by the KK. These results, particularly those obtained by the qPCR, indicate that the prevalence of schistosomiasis in this region of the Philippines is much higher than historically reported. Conclusions/Significance: Despite being more expensive, qPCR can complement the KK procedure, particularly for surveillance and monitoring of areas where extensive schistosomiasis control has led to low prevalence and intensity infections and where schistosomiasis elimination is on the horizon, as for example in southern China.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
© 2015 Gordon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.