New diagnostic tools in schistosomiasis

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2015 Jun;21(6):529-42. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2015.03.014. Epub 2015 Apr 3.


Schistosomiasis is a water-based parasitic disease that affects over 250 million people. Control efforts have long been in vain, which is one reason why schistosomiasis is considered a neglected tropical disease. However, since the new millennium, interventions against schistosomiasis are escalating. The initial impetus stems from a 2001 World Health Assembly resolution, urging member states to scale-up deworming of school-aged children with the anthelminthic drug praziquantel. Because praziquantel is safe, efficacious and inexpensive when delivered through the school platform, diagnosis before drug intervention was deemed unnecessary and not cost-effective. Hence, there was little interest in research and development of novel diagnostic tools. With the recent publication of the World Health Organization (WHO) Roadmap to overcome the impact of neglected tropical diseases in 2020, we have entered a new era. Elimination of schistosomiasis has become the buzzword and this has important ramifications for diagnostic tools. Indeed, measuring progress towards the WHO Roadmap and whether local elimination has been achieved requires highly accurate diagnostic assays. Here, we introduce target product profiles for diagnostic tools that are required for different stages of a schistosomiasis control programme. We provide an update of the latest developments in schistosomiasis diagnosis, including microscopic techniques, rapid diagnostic tests for antigen detection, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays and proxy markers for morbidity assessments. Particular emphasis is placed on challenges and solutions for new technologies to enter clinical practice.

Keywords: Antibody detection; Kato–Katz; Schistosoma; circulating antigens; control; diagnosis; elimination; polymerase chain reaction; serology; urine filtration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Disease Eradication
  • Drug Monitoring / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Schistosomiasis / diagnosis*
  • Schistosomiasis / epidemiology
  • Schistosomiasis / prevention & control


  • Biomarkers