Identification of species of the Schistosoma haematobium group is still mainly based on the morphology of eggs. Indeed, the same snail intermediate host can shed multiple species of cercariae morphologically similar and in addition, these species can hybridize. The aim of this work is to identify the cercariae of Schistosoma haematobium and S. bovis based on the geometric morphometric characteristics. We have considered, two parasites strains of Central and Northern Côte d’Ivoire shed by Bulinus truncatus snails: (i) experimentally infected snails with miracidia coming from urine of children, and (ii) naturally infected B. truncatus collected in waterbodies. The cercariae were stained with a 5 % silver nitrate solution on a slide and the ventral and dorsal sensory papillae located on the head were observed under a light microscope and digitized. Geometric morphometric parameters were analysed for 132 cercariae. A difference between the strains of cercariae was observed. No difference was observed within the experimentally obtained cercariae of the Centre and the North of the country. However, the geometric morphometric parameters vary within the naturally-infected strains; the naturally–infective cercariae of Djemitedouo are larger than the naturally-infective cercariae of Korokara. It is likely that the experimentally obtained cercariae were composed of S. haematobium species while the naturally obtained strain is either S. haematobium or S. bovis. We suggest that geometric morphometric parameters of cercariae can be used to identify anthropophilic and zoophilic species of the S. haematobium group.
Keywords: Schistosoma haematobium, Schistosoma bovis, Bulinus truncatus, Cercariae, Geometric morphometric, Characterization