Detecting Schistosoma mansoni infections among pre-school-aged children in southern Ghana: a diagnostic comparison of urine-CCA, real-time PCR and Kato-Katz assays
In Ghana, pre-school-aged children (PSAC) are at risk of intestinal schistosomiasis and are living in need of praziquantel treatment. To better assess the infection burden within this vulnerable demographic group, we have provided a comparative assessment of the prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni in pre-school-aged children by urine circulating cathodic antigen (CCA) dipsticks, real-time PCR Taqman® faecal assays and Kato-Katz coproscopy.
In all, 190 pre-school-aged children were sampled from three endemic communities (viz. Tomefa, Torgahkope/Adakope, and Manheam) around Weija dam, Southern Ghana. Fresh stool and urine samples were collected from all participants for diagnosis.
Among all the three communities, the urine-CCA assay recorded the highest prevalence values of 90.5% (95% CI 80.4–96.4), 87.9% (95% CI 76.7–95), and 81.2% (95% CI 69.9–89.6) in Tomefa, Torgahkope/Adakope, and Manheam respectively. Prevalence by real-time PCR was 50% (95% CI 35.5–64.5), 8% (95% CI 2.2–19.2) and 16.7% (95% CI 8.3–28.5), while by Kato-Katz was 55.6% (95% CI 42.5–68.1), 8.6% (95% CI 2.9–19) and 11.6% (95% CI 5.1–21.6) respectively. Children aged 1 year and over were found to be positive with the urine-CCA assay; by the ages of 3–4, over 50% were urine-CCA patent. The sensitivity and specificity of the POC-CCA dipsticks, when compared against the combined results of Kato-Katz/TaqMan results was found to be 84.1% (95% CI = 72.7–92.1) and 12.9% (95% CI = 6.6–22) respectively.
We propose that the urine-CCA dipstick may be a useful rapid diagnostic tool to estimate the prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis in PSAC, particularly in rapid identification of at-risk areas. However, our assessment has shown that it possible to record false positives when compared to combined Kato-Katz and qPCR results. To guide PSAC praziquantel treatment needs, we propose the urine CCA assay should be included in routine surveillance of intestinal schistosomiasis alongside other diagnostics such as Kato-Katz and urine filtration.