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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Other Names for this Disease
  • Bilharzia
  • Blood fluke
  • Katayama fever
  • Schistosoma mansoni infection
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Your Question

How is schistosomiasis diagnosed? Are there methods besides testing of urine and/or stool?

Our Answer

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How is schistosomiasis diagnosed?

Examination of stool and/or urine for ova is the primary method of diagnosis for schistosomiasis. The choice of sample depends on the suspected species, which may be determined by careful review of travel and residence history. The sensitivity of this testing can be limited by the intensity of infection. For best results, three samples should be collected on different days.[1] 

A blood sample can also be tested for evidence of infection. Blood tests are indicated for travelers or immigrants from endemic areas who have not been treated (or not treated appropriately) in the past. The most common tests detect antibodies to the adult worm. For accurate results, the blood sample tested should be collected at least 6 to 8 weeks after likely infection. Blood testing may not be appropriate for patients who have been repeatedly infected and treated in the past because antibodies can persist despite cure. In these patients, blood testing cannot distinguish between a past or current infection. A specific blood test has been developed for this population (which can detect an active infection based on the presence of  schistosomal antigen), but this test is not commercially available in the United States and is currently being studied for its ability to detect mild infections.[1] 

Last updated: 3/15/2013