Diagnosis and drug resistance of human soil-transmitted helminth infections: A public health perspective
Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections represent a major public health problem globally, particularly among socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Detection of STH infections is often challenging, requiring a combination of diagnostic techniques to achieve acceptable sensitivity and specificity, particularly in low infection-intensity situations. The microscopy-based Kato-Katz remains the most widely used method but has low sensitivity in the detection of, for instance, Strongyloides spp. infections, among others. Antigen/antibody assays can be more sensitive but are parasite species-specific. Highly sensitive PCR methods have been developed to be multiplexed to allow multi-species detection. Novel diagnostic tests for all STH species are needed for effective monitoring, evaluation of chemotherapy programmes, and to assess the potential emergence of parasite resistance. This review discusses available diagnostic methods for the different stages of STH control programmes, which vary in sensitivity and spectrum of detection requirements, and tools to evaluate drug efficacy and resistance.