The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method to detect Schistosoma mansoni
DNA in stool samples from individuals living in a low-endemicity area in Brazil. Of the 125 initial stool samples, 80 were ELISA reactive and eggs were identified in 19 of the samples by parasitological examination. For the PCR evaluations, 56 stool samples were selected and divided into five groups. Groups I-IV were scored negative for S. mansoni
eggs by parasitological examination. Groups I and II were ELISA reactive, whereas Groups III and IV were ELISA nonreactive. Groups II and III were positive for other intestinal parasites. PCR testing scored eight samples as positive from these four groups. Group V represented the S. mansoni
-positive group and it included ELISA-reactive samples that were scored positive for S. mansoni
by one or more parasitological examinations (6/19 were positive by Kato-Katz method, 9/17 by saline gradient and 10/13 by Helmintex®
). PCR scored 13 of these 19 samples as positive for S. mansoni
. We conclude that while none of these methods yielded 100% sensitivity, a combination of techniques should be effective for improving the detection of S. mansoni
infection in low-endemicity areas.