Fine-scale heterogeneity in Schistosoma mansoni force of infection measured through antibody response

Schistosomiasis is among the most common parasitic diseases in the world, with over 142 million people infected in low- and middle-income countries. Measuring population-level transmission is centrally important in guiding schistosomiasis control programs. Traditionally, human Schistosoma mansoni infections have been detected using stool microscopy, which is logistically difficult at program scale and has low sensitivity when people have low infection burdens. We compared serological measures of transmission based on antibody response to S. mansoni soluble egg antigen (SEA) with stool-based measures of infection among 3,663 preschool-age children in an area endemic for S. mansoni in western Kenya. We estimated force of infection among children using the seroconversion rate and examined how it varied geographically and by age. At the community level, serological measures of transmission aligned with stool-based measures of infection (ρ = 0.94), and serological measures provided more resolution for between-community differences at lower levels of infection. Force of infection showed a clear gradient of transmission with distance from Lake Victoria, with 94% of infections and 93% of seropositive children in communities <1.5 km from the lake. Force of infection increased through age 3 y, by which time 65% (95% CI: 53%, 75%) of children were SEA positive in high-transmission communities—2 y before they would be reached by school-based deworming programs. Our results show that serologic surveillance platforms represent an important opportunity to guide and monitor schistosomiasis control programs, and that in high-transmission settings preschool-age children represent a key population missed by school-based deworming programs.

Benjamin F. Arnold, Henry Kanyi, Sammy M. Njenga, Fredrick O. Rawago, Jeffrey W. Priest, W. Evan Secor, Patrick J. Lammie, Kimberly Y. Won, and Maurice R. Odiere. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Aug 31;202008951. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2008951117.

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