Volume 97, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Gastrointestinal parasite infections represent one of the biggest public health problems in the world. Therefore, appropriate innovative tools are needed for assessing interventions to control these infections. This study aims to compare the performance of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to microscopic examination for detection of intestinal parasites. A direct microscopic examination and stool concentration was performed on 98 stool samples from patients attending Senegalese hospitals. Negative microscopic control samples were also collected in Nice and Marseille (France). Species-specific primers/probes were used to detect 20 common gastrointestinal protozoans and helminths. Positive frequency and the sensitivity of each real-time PCR assay were compared with conventional microscopic examination. Real-time PCR was positive in 72 of 98 samples (73.5%), whereas microscopic examination was positive in 37 (37.7%) samples ( < 0.001). The real-time PCR assays were more sensitive than microscopy, with 57.4% (31/54) versus 18.5% (10/54), respectively, in the detection of parasites in asymptomatic patients ( < 0.05). In terms of polyparasitism, there were more coinfections detected by real-time PCR assays compared with microscopic methods (25.5% versus 3.06%). In comparison to parasite prevalence on individual samples, the results showed a perfect agreement (100%) between the two techniques for seven species, whereas discrepancies were observed for the others (agreement percentage varying from 64.2% to 98.9%). Real-time PCR appeared to be superior to microscopic examination for the detection of parasites in stool samples. This assay will be useful in diagnostic laboratories and in the field for evaluating the efficacy of mass drug administration programs.


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  • Received : 02 Oct 2016
  • Accepted : 16 Dec 2016

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