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Soil-transmitted helminth infections are a major public health problem. An accurate diagnosis is important in order to identify individuals and communities in need of intervention, and for monitoring drug efficacy and potential emergence of resistance. We compared the accuracy of the Kato-Katz method and ether-concentration technique for the diagnosis of soil-transmitted helminth infections within a randomised controlled trial. Quadruplicate Kato-Katz thick smears (duplicate Kato-Katz from two stool samples each) were examined before (baseline) and 3 weeks after treatment (follow-up). Additionally, at baseline and follow-up, the first stool sample was subjected to an ether-concentration method. We determined the prevalence, sensitivity, negative predictive value, diagnostic agreement and cure rates for single and duplicate Kato-Katz thick smears from the first stool sample, quadruplicate Kato-Katz thick smears produced from two stool samples and single ether-concentration as compared to our 'gold' standard (i.e. quadruplicate Kato-Katz plus ether-concentration). Quadruplicate Kato-Katz revealed a higher sensitivity than single ether-concentration for Trichuris trichiura at baseline (94.3 % vs. 88.5 %, p = 0.002) and follow-up (93.8 % vs. 83.5 %, p < 0.001). In contrary, at follow-up, ether-concentration showed a higher sensitivity than quadruplicate Kato-Katz for Ascaris lumbricoides diagnosis (86.7 % vs. 46.7 %, p = 0.012). The ether-concentration method showed similar or slightly higher sensitivity than the Kato-Katz technique based on a single stool sample for all soil-transmitted helminth infections. The estimated cure rates were heavily dependent on the diagnostic technique and sampling effort. In conclusion, data on the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infections and the efficacy of anthelminthics are greatly influenced by the diagnostic method and sampling effort. The ether-concentration technique is a valuable alternative to the Kato-Katz method for helminth diagnosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur j clin microbiol infect dis

Publication Date





815 - 822


Adolescent, Animals, Child, Feces, Helminthiasis, Helminths, Humans, Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic, Parasitology, Predictive Value of Tests, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Sensitivity and Specificity, Specimen Handling, Tanzania