A New Focus of Schistosoma Haematobium/S. Intercalatum Hybrid in Cameroon

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  • Department of Tropical Medicine, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana

Terminal-spined schistosome eggs were found in both stool and urine specimens of a high proportion of infected individuals in Kinding Njabi, a village located in a savannah/forest ecotone of Center Province, Cameroon. Infections with terminal-spined schistosomes are not common in that region and first appeared in Kinding Njabi in the mid-1980s. The village population, determined by house-to-house census in 1986, was 345. Of 302 stool samples examined by a thick smear technique, 58 (19%) were positive, and of 320 urine samples examined by sedimentation, 40 (12%) were positive. Twenty-six (37%) of a total of 71 infected persons passed eggs in both stool and urine. Egg size distribution and morphology were similar to previous reports for Schistosoma haematobium/S. intercalatum hybrids. Bulinus forskalii was the only snail found during extensive surveys in and around Kinding Njabi; infected snails were recovered from several temporary habitats. This focus is of particular interest because it represents the first report of transmission of hybrid schistosomes outside of the hybrid zone. Interviews with villagers and local health officials suggest that schistosomiasis was introduced by immigrants from Loum, a town approximately 100 km southwest of Kinding Njabi, where S. haematobium, S. intercalatum, and their hybrid are known to exist. Results from snail host specificity studies using the Kinding Njabi parasite showed that stool-derived miracidia were compatible only with B. forskalii, the exclusive host for S. intercalatum in Cameroon. Urine-derived miracidia were compatible only with B. truncatus, a S. haematobium host in Cameroon. The absence of any ambiguity toward snail intermediate hosts is unexpected, and indicates that small, isolated populations of hybrids may show traits uncharacteristic of parasites in a hybrid zone.