Occurrence of Schistosoma bovis on Pemba Island, Zanzibar: implications for urogenital schistosomiasis transmission monitoring

08 Aug 2018
Pennance T, Ame SM, Amour AK, Suleiman KR, Allan F, Rollinson D, Webster BL

The causative agent of urogenital schistosomiasis, Schistosoma haematobium, was thought to be the only schistosome species transmitted through Bulinus snails on Unguja and Pemba Island (Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania). For insights into the environmental risk of S. haematobium transmission on Pemba Island, malacological surveys collecting Bulinus globosus and B. nasutus, two closely related potential intermediate hosts of S. haematobium were conducted across the island in November 2016. Of 1317 B. globosus/B. nasutus collected, seven B. globosus, identified through sequencing a DNA region of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (cox1), were observed with patent infections assumed to be S. haematobium. However, when the collected cercariae were identified through sequencing a region of the cox1 and the nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 + 2), schistosomes from five of these B. globosuscollected from a single locality were in fact S. bovis. The identified presence of S. bovis raises concerns for animal health on Pemba, and complicates future transmission monitoring of S. haematobium. These results show the pertinence for not only sensitive, but also species-specific markers to be used when identifying cercariae during transmission monitoring, and also provide the first molecular confirmation for B. globosus transmitting S. bovis in East Africa.