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High Prevalence of Schistosoma japonicum Infection in Water Buffaloes in the Philippines Assessed by Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction

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  • 1 Department of Pathogen Biology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China; Center for International Health Research, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island; Department of Pediatrics, and Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown University Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island; International Health Institute, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; Department of Immunology, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Manila, Philippines; College of Veterinary Medicine, Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte State University, Leyte, Philippines

Difficulty in controlling human Schistosoma japonicum infection is partly attributed to the presence of non-human definitive hosts. Water buffaloes are a major reservoir for transmission of S. japonicum to humans in China. However, in the Philippines, reports based on microscopic examination of buffalo stool identified a low prevalence of S. japonicum, and mathematical models using these data concluded that water buffaloes are not a major reservoir for transmission of S. japonicum to humans. We collected stool from 81 buffaloes in Macanip, Leyte, the Philippines, and assayed for S. japonicum infection by the Danish Bilharziasis Laboratory technique, the Kato-Katz technique, miracidia hatching, and a highly validated real-time polymerase chain reaction. The prevalence defined by each assay was 3.7%, 3.7%, 0%, and 51.5% respectively. Our results demonstrate that microscopic-based techniques dramatically underestimate the prevalence of S. japonicum infection in water buffaloes in the Philippines and warrant reexamination of the role of bovines in transmission of S. japonicum to humans in the Philippines.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Hai-Wei Wu, Center for International Health Research, Rhode Island Hospital, 55 Claverick Street, Providence, RI 02903. E-mail: haiwei_wu@brown.edu

Financial support: This study was supported by National Institutes of Health (grant RO1AI48123) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant 30671836).

Authors' addresses: Hai-Wei Wu, Center for International Health Research, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, Department of Pediatrics, Brown University Medical School, Providence, RI, and Department of Pathogen Biology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, E-mail: haiwei_wu@brown.edu. Yung-Fang Qin, Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Nanjing, Jiansu, China, E-mail: fangia2004@yahoo.com.cn. Kai Chu, Rui Meng, Yun Liu, and Min-Jun Ji, Department of Pathogen Biology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, E-mails: chukai19812007@163.com, merit3413@163.com, liuyun1258@163.com, and jiminjun@njmu.edu.cn. Stephen T. McGarvey, International Health Institute, Brown University, Providence, RI, E-mail: stephen_mcgarvey@brown.edu. Remigio Olveda and Luz Acosta, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, FILINVEST Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines, E-mails: remi_olveda@yahoo.com.ph and lpacosta@yahoo.com. Tomas Fernandez, College of Veterinary Medicine, Visayas State University, ViSCA, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines, E-mail: tfernandez@yahoo.com. Jennifer F. Friedman, Center for International Health Research, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, and Department of Pediatrics, Brown University Medical School, Providence, RI, E-mail: jennifer_friedman@brown.edu. Jonathan D. Kurits, Center for International Health Research, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, and Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown University Medical School, Providence, RI, E-mail: jonathan_kuritis@brown.edu.

Reprint requests: Jonathan D. Kurtis, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown University Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital, 55 Claverick Street, Providence, RI 02903, E-mail: jonathan_kurtis@brown.edu.

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