Background: Schistosomiasis remains a serious public health problem in affected countries, and routine, highly sensitive and cost-effective diagnostic methods are lacking. We evaluated two immunodiagnostic techniques for the detection of Schistosoma japonicum infections: circulating antibody and circulating antigen assays.
Methods: A total of 1864 individuals (between 6 and 72 years old) residing in five administrative villages in Hubei province were screened by serum examination with an indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA). The positive individuals (titer ≥20 in IHA) were reconfirmed by stool examination with the Kato-Katz method (three slides from a single stool specimen). Samples of good serum quality and a volume above 0.5 ml were selected for further testing with two immunodiagnostic antibody (DDIA and ELISA) and two antigen (ELISA) assays.
Results: The average antibody positive rate in the five villages was 12.7%, while the average parasitological prevalence was 1.50%; 25 of the 28 egg-positive samples were also circulating antigen-positive. Significant differences were observed between the prevalence according to the Kato-Katz method and all three immunodiagnostic antibody assays (P-value <0.0001). Similar differences were observed between the Kato-Katz method and the two immunodiagnostic antigen assays (P-value <0.0001) and between the antigen and antibody assays (P-value <0.0001).
Conclusion: Both circulating antibody and circulating antigen assays had acceptable performance characteristics. Immunodiagnostic techniques to detect circulating antigens have potential to be deployed for schistosomiasis japonica screening in the endemic areas.