Among the neglected tropical parasitic diseases targeted for eradication/elimination include schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases.

Currently, 258 million of the world’s population is infected with schistosomiasis ranking it as one of the most common and difficult to control. Sub-Saharan Africa now supports over 85% of the world’s cases of schistosomiasis, a disease that has long been underestimated in its impact on the people it infects, often impoverished children. WHO has called for the elimination of human schistosomiasis as a public health problem by 2025, and although chemotherapy with the one available drug praziquantel will remain the backbone of this effort, it is now emerging that integrated control approaches are needed if we are to achieve the WHO’s ambitious goals.

The Schistosomiasis department is involved with research aimed at disease surveillance to determine which areas schistosomiasis is endemic to guide treatment coverage, development of new more sensitive and cost effective tools for schistosomiasis diagnosis and come up with novel integrated methods for the disease control. In addition, we carry out in vitro and in vivo evaluation of antischistosomal activity of medicinal plants and carrying out immunomodulatory studies to evaluate host-parasite interaction before and after treatment by application of Cytometric Bead Array (CBA) assay using Flow Cytometry.

Current Projects

The following are some of the flagship projects in the department:

Project Title: Snail-Related Studies of Transmission and Control of Schistosomiasis in Kenya.

In this study, we seek to develop new means to control schistosomiasis by interrupting larval development of Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium in snails.

Project title: Effect of agrochemical pollutants on the infectivity and maturation of Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma mansoni in the Lake Victoria basin

The overall objective of the study is to evaluate the effect of agrochemical pollutants, specifically the neo-nicotinoid Imidacloprid and the organophosphate Diazinon on the ability of S. haematobium and S. mansoni to infect- and mature within -their respective hosts Biomphlaria pfeifferi and Bulinus africanus in the western area of Kenya.

Project title: Evaluation of a rapid, cost effective, highly sensitive, molecular -Based Test for Simultaneous Diagnosis of Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases in Kirinyaga county

The overall goal of the study is to evaluate a diagnostic tool capable of simultaneously detecting S. mansoni and the most common soil-transmitted nematode parasites for use in the sub-Saharan Africa, to support disease prevention and control efforts.

 Project Title: Exploration of Quasi integrated schistosomiasis control strategy in Kirinyaga county with value addition to irrigation farmers

The overall objective of the study is to investigate the use of semi-integrated schistosomiasis control strategies in Kirinyaga county to lower the disease burden and save farmers time wasted on toilet-seeking activity.

 Project title: Evaluation of sentinel mice as a tool for identifying Schistosoma mansoni transmission sites and assessing seasonality of transmission in Mwea irrigation scheme, Central Kenya, and microsatellite analysis of the worms recovered.

The study explores use of sentinel mice to identify S. mansoni transmission sites and assess seasonal pattern of parasite transmission in Mwea, central Kenya, an agricultural irrigation scheme, with rice as the main crop. Additionally, the genetic characteristics of the adult schistosomes recovered from the sentinel mice were assessed using microsatellite analysis.

Project Title: Development and evaluation of a Rapid recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) test for simultaneous diagnosis of Schistosoma mansoni and soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections in fecal samples in low-resource settings.

The objective of the study is to develop a Rapid Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) test for simultaneous diagnosis of Schistosoma mansoni and soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections in faecal samples in Low-Resource Settings

Project Title: Genetic characterization of Biomphalaria pfeifferi from asao stream, kisumu county using microsatellite markers

The objective of the study is to assess the genetic characteristics of the B. pfeifferi population in Asao stream, Kisumu County, in relation to seasonality, selfing and refractory properties

Project Title: Epidemiology and transmission dynamics of Schistosoma mansoni and other geohelminthes in school going children in Mathira constituency, Nyeri county, Kenya

The objective of the study is to perform a cross-sectional epidemiological study on the prevalence, infection intensity and vector aspects of S. mansoni in Kiawarigi villages in Koonyo location, Mathira constituency since new transmission foci may periodically be reported in different parts of the country.

Project Title: Mapping emerging infectious diseases in Kenya within the context of climate change – Schistosomiasis aspect

The objective of the study is to map new distribution and transmission ranges for malaria, leishmaniasis, filariasis and schistosomiasis in specific regions of the country where there is evidence to suggest emergence and to determine factors associated with emergence.  Evidence to suggest emergence includes the presence of vectors of disease and reports of clinical disease and study sites have been carefully selected based on this evidence.

Selected Publications

  1. Transmission sites for Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis identified in localities within the Athi River basin of Kenya using PCR-RFLP assay. Agola EL, Mwangi IN, Joseph Kinuthia, Geoffrey Maina and Martin Mutuku. Heloyon (2021). http//
  2. Martin W. Mutuku, Martina R. Laidemitt, Johannie M. Spaan, Ibrahim N. Mwangi, Horace Ochanda, Michelle L. Steinauer, Eric S. Loker, Gerald M. Mkoji. Comparative vectorial competence of Biomphalaria sudanica and Biomphalaria choanomphala, snail hosts of Schistosoma mansoni, from transmission hotspots in Lake Victoria, western Kenya. Journal of parasitology 107(2) 349–357 (2021).
  3. Development and evaluation of a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) diagnostic test for detection of whipworm, Trichuris trichiura, in faecal samples. Ngari MG, Mwangi IN, Njoroge MP, Kinyua J, Osuna FA, Kimeu BM, Okanya PW, Agola EL. Journal of Helminthology. (2020). 94, e142, 1–7. S0022149X2000022X
  4. Pesticide pollution in freshwater paves the way for Schistosomiasis transmission. Jeremias M. Becker, Akbar A. Ganatra, Faith Kandie, Lina Muhlbauer, Jorg Ahlheim, Werner Brack, Baldwyn Torto, Eric L. Agola, Francis McOdimba, Henner Hollert, Ulrike Fillinger and Matthias Liess. Scientific Reports, natureresearch.
  5. DNA-Detection Based Diagnostics for Taenia solium Cysticercosis in Porcine. Maxwell W. Waema ,1 Gerald Misinzo, John M. Kagira , Eric L. Agola , and Helena A. Ngowi. Journal of Parasitology Research. Volume 2020, Article ID 5706981, 7 pages
  6. Effectiveness of Albendazole on Soil Transmitted Nematodes Among School Children. A Case Of Kakamega County, Kenya T.W. Ngonjo , Collins Okoyo , Elses Simiyu , Jimmy Kihara, Agola Eric Lelo , Ephantus Kabiru , Charles Mwandawiro. African Journal of Health Sciences, Volume 32, Issue No. 1, January – February 2019
  7. A Search for Snail-Related Answers to Explain Differences in Response of Schistosoma mansoni to Praziquantel Treatment among Responding and Persistent Hotspot Villages along the Kenyan Shore of Lake Victoria. Martin W. Mutuku, Martina R. Laidemitt, Brianna R. Beechler, Ibrahim N. Mwangi, Fredrick O. Otiato, Eric L. Agola, Horace Ochanda, Bishoy Kamel, Gerald M. Mkoji, Michelle L. Steinauer, and Eric S. Loker. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 101(1), 2019, pp. 65–77
  8. Molluscicidal activity of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium extracts against Biomphalaria pfeifferi Daniel Mwiti, Joseph Mwatha, Festus Tolo, Rebecca Waihenya,  Geoffrey Maina, David Muriu, Rael Musili, Linus M Lewa and Murima Ng’ang’a. Journal of pharmacy and biological sciences (IOSR-JPBS) Volume 14, Issue 1 Ser. IV (Jan – Feb 2019), PP 88-98
  9. Development and Evaluation of a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification Assay for Diagnosis of Schistosoma mansoni Infection in Faecal Samples Ibrahim N. Mwangi, Eric L. Agola, Robert M. Mugambi, Esther A. Shiraho , and Gerald M. Mkoji. Journal of Parasitology Research Volume 2018, Article ID 1267826, 7 pages
  10. Effects of Abiotic and Biotic Factors on the Snail Predator, Procambarus clarkii, Girad (Decapoda: Cambaridae): Implications for Schistosomiasis Control in Kenya. Maina GM, Kinuthia JM, Mutuku MW, Mwangi IN, Ndeti CM, Arunga GO, Agola EL, Kutima HL. International Journal of Marine Biology and Research 3(1): 1-6. (2018)
  11. Antischistosomal Activity of Azadirachta indica and Ekebergia capensis in Mice Infected with Schistosoma mansoni. Rael Musili, Francis Muregi, Joseph Mwatha, David Muriu, Linus M’ Rewa, Timothy Kamau, Antony Menaine, Simon Chege, Joseph Thiong’o Zipporrah Ng’ang’a and Gachuhi Kimani. European Journal of Medicinal Plants, ISSN: 2231-0894, Vol.: 6, Issue.: 2
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