Translating preventive chemotherapy prevalence thresholds for <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i> from the Kato-Katz technique into the point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen diagnostic test

by Oliver Bärenbold, Amadou Garba, Daniel G. Colley, Fiona M. Fleming, Ayat A. Haggag, Reda M. R. Ramzy, Rufin K. Assaré, Edridah M. Tukahebwa, Jean B. Mbonigaba, Victor Bucumi, Biruck Kebede, Makoy S. Yibi, Aboulaye Meité, Jean T. Coulibaly, Eliézer K. N’Goran, Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté, Pauline Mwinzi, Jürg Utzinger, Penelope Vounatsou


Intervention guidelines against Schistosoma mansoni are based on the Kato-Katz technique. However, Kato-Katz thick smears show low sensitivity, especially for light-intensity infections. The point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen (POC-CCA) is a promising rapid diagnostic test detecting antigen output of living worms in urine and results are reported as trace, 1+, 2+, and 3+. The use of POC-CCA for schistosomiasis mapping, control, and surveillance requires translation of the Kato-Katz prevalence thresholds into POC-CCA relative treatment cut-offs. Furthermore, the infection status of egg-negative but antigen-positive individuals and the intensity-dependent sensitivity of POC-CCA should be estimated to determine its suitability for verification of disease elimination efforts.


We used data from settings in Africa and the Americas characterized by a wide range of S. mansoni endemicity. We estimated infection intensity-dependent sensitivity and specificity of each test at the unit of the individual, using a hierarchical Bayesian egg-count model that removes the need to define a ‘gold’ standard applied to data with multiple Kato-Katz thick smears and POC-CCA urine cassette tests. A simulation study was carried out based on the model estimates to assess the relation of the two diagnostic tests for different endemicity scenarios.

Principal findings

POC-CCA showed high specificity (> 95%), and high sensitivity (> 95%) for moderate and heavy infection intensities, and moderate sensitivity (> 75%) for light infection intensities, and even for egg-negative but antigen-positive infections. A 10% duplicate slide Kato-Katz thick smear prevalence corresponded to a 15–40% prevalence of ≥ trace-positive POC-CCA, and 10–20% prevalence of ≥ 1+ POC-CCA. The prevalence of ≥ 2+ POC-CCA corresponded directly to single slide Kato-Katz prevalence for all prevalence levels.


The moderate sensitivity of POC-CCA, even for very light S. mansoni infections where the sensitivity of Kato-Katz is very low, and the identified relationship between Kato-Katz and POC-CCA prevalence thresholds render the latter diagnostic tool useful for surveillance and initial estimation of elimination of S. mansoni. For prevalence below 10% based on a duplicate slide Kato-Katz thick smear, we suggest using POC-CCA including trace results to evaluate treatment needs and propose new intervention thresholds that need to be validated in different settings.

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