Epidemiological surveys of, and research on, soil-transmitted helminths in Southeast Asia: a systematic review
Diagnosis of soil-transmitted helminths such as Strongyloides stercoralis and hookworms (Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus) is challenging due to irregular larval and egg output in infected individuals and insensitive conventional diagnostic procedures. Sensitive novel real-time PCR assays have been developed. Our study aimed to evaluate the real-time PCR assays as a diagnostic tool for detection of Strongyloides spp. and hookworms in a random stool sample of 218 asymptomatic schoolchildren in Cambodia. Overall prevalence of 17.4% (38/218) and 34.9% (76/218) were determined by real-time PCR for S. stercoralis and hookworms, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of S. stercoralis specific real-time PCR as compared to the combination of Baermann/Koga Agar as gold standard were 88.9% and 92.7%, respectively. For hookworm specific real-time PCR a sensitivity of 78.9% and specificity of 78.9% were calculated. Co-infections were detectable by PCR in 12.8% (28/218) of individuals. S. stercoralis real-time PCR applied in asymptomatic cases showed a lower sensitivity compared to studies undertaken with symptomatic patients with the same molecular tool, yet it proved to be a valid supplement in the diagnosis of STH infection in Cambodia.