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The immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis used in a non-endemic area

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OBJECTIVES  To evaluate an immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) for diagnosis of schistosomiasis in nonimmune travellers and immigrants from endemic areas.

METHODS  65 patients (48 Danes and 17 immigrants) with schistosomiasis were included. The diagnosis of schistosomiasis was based on the presence of schistosome eggs in faeces, urine, sperm, rectal or bladder biopsies and/or the presence of specific antibodies determined by the serological immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT). Egg excretion was detected using conventional methods and the IFAT performed on whole S. mansoni schistosomula worms, harvested after 8¬†weeks from mice. Two patterns of immunofluorescence were observed: Fluorescence in the gut of the schistosome called ‘Gut Associated Antigen, GAA’, and fluorescence of the surface of the schistosomula called ‘Membrane Bound Antigen, MBA’.

RESULTS  Eggs were found in 44% of the Danish patients and in 76% of immigrants. The diagnosis was based on a positive IFAT in 48% of the patients. In patients from nonendemic areas, the finding of antibodies against GAA was diagnostic while optimal sensitivity in the immigrants was reached by measuring antibodies against both GAA and MBA.

CONCLUSION  In patients from nonendemic areas GAA is a sensitive marker of acute infection with schistosomiasis. In patients from endemic areas the demonstration of both GAA and MBA is necessary to properly identify long-lasting, nonacute infections. Egg-detection and/or measurement of CAA and CCA remain the methods of choice to monitor treatment as the immunofluorescence assay may remain positive for several years after treatment.

Keywords: IFAT; immunofluorescence antibody test; schistosomiasis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Infectious Diseases, Marselisborg Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark 2: Laboratory of Parasitology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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