Sensitive diagnostic tools and targeted drug administration strategies are needed to eliminate schistosomiasis
Although preventive chemotherapy has been instrumental in reducing schistosomiasis incidence worldwide, serious challenges remain. These problems include the omission of certain groups from campaigns of mass drug administration, the existence of persistent disease hotspots, and the risk of recrudescent infections. Central to these challenges is the fact that the diagnostic tools currently used to establish the burden of infection are not sensitive enough, especially in low-endemic settings, which results in underestimation of the true prevalence of active Schistosoma spp infections. This central issue necessitates that the current schistosomiasis control strategies recommended by WHO are re-evaluated and, possibly, adapted. More targeted interventions and novel approaches have been used to estimate the prevalence of schistosomiasis, such as establishing infection burden by use of precision mapping, which provides high resolution spatial information that delineates variations in prevalence within a defined geographical area. Such information is instrumental in guiding targeted intervention campaigns. However, the need for highly accurate diagnostic tools in such strategies is a crucial factor that is often neglected. The availability of highly sensitive diagnostic tests also opens up the possibility of applying strategies of sample pooling to reduce the cost of control programmes. To interrupt the transmission of, and eventually eliminate, schistosomiasis, better local targeting of preventive chemotherapy, in combination with highly sensitive diagnostic tools, is crucial.