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Evaluation of the utility of conventional polymerase chain reaction for detection and species differentiation in human hookworm infections.

BACKGROUND: Human hookworm infection is caused mainly by Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale . Among the zoonotic hookworm species, only Ancylostoma ceylanicum causes potent human infections where dogs and cats act as reservoir of infection. Hence, species differentiation is imperative because the eradication of both anthroponotic and zoonotic hookworm depends on the concurrent human and animal health programs, hygienic practices, and mass drug administration for humans and dogs.

OBJECTIVE: This study was performed to evaluate the utility of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of hookworm infections.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 209 stool samples were collected and subjected to stool microscopy, Kato-Katz method to identify the intensity of the infection, coproculture for L3 larval identification and species differentiation and semi-nested PCR with sequencing.

RESULTS: The prevalence of hookworm was estimated as 7.6%. Highest hookworm prevalence was seen in 20-30 years of age group. Majority of the infections were mild intensity infections. Sensitivity of stool microscopy was found to be 81.2% and the specificity was 100%. Sensitivity of Kato-Katz method was 87.5% and specificity was 100%. True positivity by agar plate culture was 83.3% and false positivity rate was 16.6%.

CONCLUSION: Stool microscopy is the major mode of detection, but it has a higher false negative rate. Coproculture is time-consuming and needs the expertise to differentiate the species. On the other hand, PCR is known to be a sensitive, specific, and a reliable investigative tool which can help in diagnosis as well as in species differentiation.

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