COUNTDOWN in Ghana: Developing the diagnostic capacity for detection and surveillance of soil-transmitted helminthiasis at local and national levels

Wed13  Apr04:00pm(15 mins)
Great Hall - Sherfield Building


L J Cunningham2; M Osei-Atweneboana1; E R Adams2; J Verweij3; R Stothard2
1 Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana;  2 LSTM;  3 St Elisabeth Hospital, Netherlands


Traditional diagnosis and detection of soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) relies upon microscopy to visualise parasite eggs within Kato-Katz thick faecal smears. This method is used for the detection of STH in resource poor settings, although there are known shortcomings with regards to both specificity and sensitivity when compared to modern molecular based methods. Due to this the true prevalence of infection is often underestimated locally resulting in a false impression of the disease endemic landscape nationally as programmes progress. This imperfect diagnostic leads to an incomplete appraisal of STH at several levels and has particular bearing on STH control programmes, most notably on the accurate identification of strongyloidiasis cases. Moving diagnostics from a field into a laboratory setting will allow for the employment of recent advances in real-time PCR (rt-PCR) and TaqMan® probe-based detection assays. These new DNA platforms can detect each species of STH simultaneously with a higher degree of specificity and sensitivity than the currently used microscopy methods. In this presentation we report on a capacity building project in Ghana where we have undertaken a 1-week training workshop in rt-PCR. Our later intention is to find synergy with STH surveillance within the National Polio Monitoring Programme where polio teams regularly collect stool samples from children across Ghana and perform rt-PCR for viral infections.

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