Given the constraints of classical diagnostic methods, i.e., morphological and isoenzymatic studies of proglottids, a polymerase chain reaction test complemented with restriction enzyme analysis has been modified by redesigning one of the primers to reduce nonspecific amplifications experienced when using field samples. The use of these new, highly cestode-specific primers and the restriction enzyme DdeI led to the development of a diagnostic assay that clearly distinguishes between Taenia saginata and T. solium proglottids in field samples. This assay confirms the presence of T. saginata in Ecuador. DNA amplification of some of these taeniids showed different patterns, suggesting the possibility that strain differences exist. These results demonstrate the need for development of useful molecular assays as reliable tools for epidemiological studies on cestodes.

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