Epidemiologic Application of Circulating Antigen Detection in a Recent Schistosoma mansoni Focus in Northern Senegal

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  • Department of Parasitology, Medical Faculty, University of Leiden, Region Medicale de St. Louis, Leiden, The Netherlands

Quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for the detection of circulating anodic antigen (CAA) and circulating cathodic antigen (CCA) in serum and urine were applied as an epidemiologic tool in a recent, intense focus of Schistosoma mansoni in Senegal. Both CAA and CCA in serum and CCA in urine were found in 94%, 83%, and 95%, respectively, of the population, of which 91% were positive on stool examination. Circulating antigens were also detectable in sera and urines of most egg-negative individuals. The sensitivities of the urine CCA and serum CAA ELISA were substantially higher than that of a single egg count, and increased with egg output. The CAA and CCA levels correlated well with egg counts and with each other. The age-related evolution of antigen levels followed a similar pattern as egg counts, providing supplementary evidence for a genuine reduction of worm burdens in adults in spite of the supposed absence of acquired immunity in this recently exposed community. The antigen:egg ratios decreased in adults, suggesting lower worm fecundity in children. This would be compatible with a density-dependent reduction of fecundity, but not with anti-fecundity immunity in adults that perhaps has not yet developed in this new focus.