Open Access Research

Epidemiology and control of intestinal schistosomiasis on the Sesse Islands, Uganda: integrating malacology and parasitology to tailor local treatment recommendations

Claire J Standley12, Moses Adriko3, Moses Arinaitwe3, Aaron Atuhaire3, Francis Kazibwe3, Alan Fenwick4, Narcis B Kabatereine3 and J Russell Stothard2*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Genetics, School of Biology, University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK

2 Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratories, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

3 Vector Control Division, Ministry of Health, 15 Bombo Road, P.O. Box 1661, Kampala, Uganda

4 Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, Imperial College London, St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, Paddington, London W2 1PG, UK

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Parasites & Vectors 2010, 3:64  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-3-64

Published: 27 July 2010

Abstract

Background

Intestinal schistosomiasis is often widespread among the populations living around Lake Victoria and on its islands. The Sesse Island group (containing some 84 islands), however, is typically assumed to be a low prevalence zone, with limited transmission, but has never been surveyed in detail. Here, we present a rapid mapping assessment, bringing together snail and parasite information, at 23 sites for the presence of intermediate host snails and at 61 sites for the prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis in school-aged children (N = 905). Two different diagnostic tools were used and compared at 45 of these sites: Kato-Katz thick faecal smears and circulating cathodic antigen (CCA) urine dipsticks.

Results

Biomphalaria snails were found at 11 sites but in low numbers; none was found shedding schistosome cercariae. At 22 out of the 45 sites, local prevalence by urine and/or stool diagnostics was in excess of 50%, although mean prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis overall was 34.6% (95% confidence intervals (CI) = 31.0-38.3%) by Kato-Katz and 46.5% (95% CI = 42.7-50.4%) by CCA if 'trace' reactions were considered infection-positive (if considered infection-negative, mean prevalence was 28.1% (95% CI = 24.7-31.7%)). Diagnostic congruence between CCA and Kato-Katz was poor and significant discordance in estimated prevalence by location was found, with each often inferring different mass drug administration regimes.

Conclusions

Accurate estimation of schistosome prevalence is important for determining present and future treatment needs with praziquantel; the wide range of schistosome prevalence across the Sesse Island group requires a treatment regime largely tailored to each island. In high prevalence locations, further malacological sampling is required to confirm the extent of local transmission, especially on the northern islands within the group. The observation that different diagnostic tests can provide varying results in terms of estimating prevalence by location, and hence change treatment recommendations, suggests that care must be taken in interpreting raw prevalence data. In particular, further research into the reasons for the differences in the poorer performance of the CCA test should be pursued.