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Alternative Methods
Test Principles
Methods of choicePros and cons
For detecting parasitic DNA 
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or nested PCR
  • Conventional PCR
  • Real-time PCR
  • Methods with highest sensitivity and excellent specificity
  • Some false-negative results due to inhibitors in sample
  • Time-consuming procedure (except real-time PCR)
  • Investment in equipment and rather expensive reagents
For detecting parasite antigens 
Immunoassays with mostly specific monoclonal antibodies
  • Immunoenzyme methods (e.g. ELISA)
  • Direct fluorescent antibody tests
  • Immunochromatographic assays
    (“rapid diagnostic tests”)
  • High sensitivity
  • Detection of active infections
  • Efficient testing of many samples
  • False-negatives due to inhibitory host antibodies
For detecting antibodies 
Various indirect immunoassays using labelled anti-human Ig conjugates
(e.g. enzyme-immunoassays, indirect fluorescent antibody tests, Western blots and others)
  • High sensitivity
  • Limitations in specificity (due to crude antigen preparations)
  • Limitations in sensitivity (when recombinant antigens or synthetic peptides are used)
  • Early diagnosis before patent period (helminth infections)
  • Persistence of host antibodies after cure