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FDA Approves First U.S. Treatment for Chagas Disease & Other NTD News

News roundup

This news roundup is a collection of headlines and other items on neglected tropical diseases, and does not reflect the work or the views of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center. 

Virtual Reality: Godfrey Yonasi Cheleni is a health worker in Malawi in charge of delivering drugs to treat Lymphatic Filariasis - a painful and debilitating disease - to 8 villages in Malawi. Follow his journey to deliver these drugs to people who need them most.

Lymphatic filariasis

The francophone network on neglected tropical diseases

Jean Jannin et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Réseau Francophone sur les Maladies Tropicales Négligées (RFMTN) was officially launched on 8 April 2016 in Montpellier. This network, established under the auspices of the alliance for health and life sciences (AVIESAN), promotes collaboration between French research institutions and gathers research institutions, researchers, medical doctors, NGOs (having operational projects in the field of NTDs), the pharmaceutical industry, foundations, and [disease endemic country, or] DEC stakeholders. Its goal is to fill gaps on NTDs thanks to a reinforced contribution of France and to focus on elimination of NTDs.

Iloilo province remains filariasis-free

Jezza Nepomoceno
The province of Iloilo remains free from filarial parasites based on the transmission assessment survey and nocturnal blood survey held in selected sites where cases of lymphatic filariasis where previously recorded. Provincial Health Officer Patricia Grace Trabado confirmed and announced this during Iloilo’s celebration of milestones on lymphatic filariasis elimination program in Casa Real de Iloilo earlier this week.


Ivermectin Treatment in Patients With Onchocerciasis-Associated Epilepsy: Protocol of a Randomized Clinical Trial

Robert Colebunders et al.
JMIR Research Protocols
If ivermectin treatment in addition to [antiepilepsy drugs,or] AEDs is able to lead to seizure freedom or significantly reduces seizure frequency in [ onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy, or] OAE patients, this will have major consequences for epilepsy treatment in onchocerciasis-endemic regions.

River Blindness – A Neglected Disease Transmitted by Blackflies (Simulium spp.)

Jane Nchangnwi Che et al.
International Pest Control
APOC was closed in 2015, but was replaced by the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) in 2016 to promote an integrated approach to tackling onchocerciasis, along with four other high-burden neglected tropical diseases, including lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases.


S. mansoni genome encodes thousands of long non-coding RNAs predicted to be functional at different parasite life-cycle stages

Elton J. R. Vasconcelos et al.
Scientific Reports
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) strategies, like RNA-Seq, have revealed the transcription of a wide variety of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the genomes of several organisms. In the present work we assessed the lncRNAs complement of Schistosoma mansoni, the blood fluke that causes schistosomiasis, ranked among the most prevalent parasitic diseases worldwide.

Ministry of Health and partners gear up to control and eliminate Schistosomiasis in Uganda

Mwebembezi Edmond
World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa
The Ministry of Health with support from partners convened a two-day meeting to discuss control and elimination of Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) in Uganda. The meeting provides an opportunity for the experts to review the details of Ministry of Health’s NTD programme implementation, coverage of the different interventions, possible reasons for the resurgence of schistosomiasis and provide guidance on a comprehensive approach to controlling Schistosomiasis, using the available tools.

Tackling the lack of uniformity in Schistosomiasis Transmission

Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuente, Pamela Bongkiyung and Russell Stothard
In Africa, the dynamic of transmission is not uniform – it differs from one area to another even in the same country. In Cameroon for example, the transmission is not uniform because what happens in one locality is completely different from others, the dynamic of transmission is different, the snails’ species are different, the interactions between the snails and parasites are different, the re-infection rates also differ.

A comparative study on the efficacy of PZQ and ABZ in the treatment of urinary schisto in Adim, Cross River State, Nigeria

S. A. Ben and M.F. Useh
International Health
The prevalence of S. haematobium infection in the study area was 32.8% More males were infected than females.. The difference in the prevalence rate of infection by gender was statistically significant.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Soil-transmitted helminth infections

Peter Mark Jourdan et al.
The Lancet
We highlight the need for refined diagnostic tools and effective control options to scale up public health interventions and improve clinical detection and management of these infections.

Putting an end to intestinal worms

University of Washington
The Seattle Times
For two billion people around the planet, anemia, weakness and malaise are part of daily life. These symptoms are part of living with soil-transmitted helminths – more commonly known as intestinal worms – that inhabit victims’ bellies, sapping their nutrients and stunting their physical and cognitive development.

Intestinal helminthic infection and anemia among pregnant women attending ante-natal care in East Wollega, Oromia, Ethiopia

Hylemariam Mihiretie Mengis, Olifan Zewdie and Adugna Belew
BMC Research Notes
The prevalence of intestinal helminths and anemia was significantly high in this study. Different socio-demographic, lifestyle and obstetric factors were identified as significant contributors of intestinal helminthic infection and anemia among pregnant women. Therefore, public health measures and intensive antenatal care services are vital to promoting safe pregnancy.

Opening a Can of Worms: Leprosy Reactions and Complicit Soil-Transmitted Helminths

Deanna A. Hagge et al.
Absence of STH co-infection is associated with leprosy reaction at diagnosis within a co-endemic population. This is likely due to immune reconstitution effects after deworming or interruption of chronic STH-mediated immune dysregulation.


Seek early treatment for eye ailments, Kajiado residents urged

Rop Janet
Kenya News Agency
Kajiado County residents have been urged to seek early medical attention for eye-related ailments so as to save sight. Dr. John Soine, an Ophthalmic Officer at the Kajiado District hospital, revealed that many area residents do not go for treatment due to varied reasons such as ignorance, fear of surgery and cultural beliefs and this has resulted in many of them losing their sight permanently.

Sightsavers wins prestigious award for its work fighting blindness

Sightsavers has been given the the António Champalimaud Vision Award for its contribution towards preventing and alleviating blindness and visual impairment in developing countries.

[VIDEO] SAFE strategy to fight trachoma in Ethiopia

The Fred Hollows Foundation
Trachoma is an infectious eye disease and a significant public health issue in Oromia, Ethiopia. Dr Wondu Alemayehu from The Fred Hollows Foundation explains how they are using remote surgical teams to implement the WHO endorsed SAFE Strategy in the fight against this devastating neglected tropical disease.


The Neglected Diseases: Will a ‘New World Order’ Reverse Global Gains?

Peter J. Hotez
International Health
Recognition that NTD emergence now seems to invariably follow conflict could help to inform policies that support disease surveillance and vector control efforts as an essential element of peace-keeping and refugee health.

Water Related Health Problems – Are You Safe?

Suzanne Winchester
Bible Way Magazine
The climate changes and increase in pollution levels also contribute to water scarcity, a problem that is slowly becoming a global threat. With the freshwater sources fast depleting, the water available today is either infected with bacteria or other chemicals causing many water borne diseases and fatal infections.

Five takeaways from Stockholm World Water Week

Sophie Edwards
These were some of the main messages heard during last week’s Stockholm World Water Week, which saw more than 3,200 participants from 133 countries descend on the Swedish capital for six days of sessions and discussion centered around reaching the water and sanitation Sustainable Development Goals.

[VIDEO] ISNTD Interview: Dr. Ole Lagatie (Janssen Diagnostics)

The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases
The ISNTD catches up with Dr. Ole Lagatie, Senior Principal Research Scientist at Janssen Diagnostics, to discuss current research and tools at Janssen for NTD diagnostics, with a focus on onchocerciasis and soil-transmitted helminths diagnosis.


FDA approves first U.S. treatment for Chagas disease

Theresa Eisenman
The Food and Drug Administration
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted accelerated approval to benznidazole for use in children ages 2 to 12 years old with Chagas disease. It is the first treatment approved in the United States for the treatment of Chagas disease.

Whatever Happened To Those Farmers Who Needed Shoes?

Michaeleen Doucleff
NPR Goats & Soda
A number of farmers in Uganda are suffering from a nightmare illness, in which their legs, feet and toes swell up so much that they can't walk. The skin thickens and breaks open, creating ulcers and infections. A researcher found the cause. What's happened since then?

In Rural Kenya, Escaping A Deadly Disease Sometimes Takes A Little Luck

Zoe Flood
The Huffington Post
Visceral leishmaniasis is so common in Kenya’s Pokot and Baringo regions that locals have their own word for it. “Termes,” as the disease is known in Pokot, seems to reference the pointy termite hills that dot the dusty landscape and are a preferred dwelling place of the sandflies that transmit the disease.

Can data drive better health outcomes in Tanzania?

Catherine Cheney
It is a common problem across countries that, because routine health data is generally low quality, health decisions are based on best guesses rather than reliable information. The insufficient use of data to inform planning decisions, manage programs and deliver services can lead to life-threatening consequences, such as stock outs of medicines, delayed responses to outbreaks or wasteful health care spending.

Seasonal dynamics in mosquito abundance and temperature do not influence avian malaria prevalence in the Himalayan foothills

Farah Ishtiaq
Ecology and Evolution
In this first molecular study on Plasmodium and Haemoproteus prevalence across resident and migrant birds, we aimed to explore the seasonal dynamics in parasite prevalence and its association with seasonal environmental drivers and host life-history traits.

Antivenoms ineffective for common fatal snakebite

Aymeric Rogalski et al.
Medical Xpress
Saw-scaled vipers – found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia – kill more people globally each year than almost any other kind of snake, and are treated with antivenoms produced using snakes from different regions.

Upcoming Events

International Workshop on Disease Mapping in Low-resource Settings
September 14-15, Lancashire, England
Lancaster University
Hosted by Lancaster University on 14 - 15 September 2017, the multidisciplinary workshop will bring together international statistics and epidemiology experts to discuss the mapping of a wide range of diseases including neglected tropical diseases and malaria. 

World Vaccine Congress India
September 19-20, Mumbai, India
Join us at the World Vaccine Congress India this September 19-20 in Mumbai, the latest addition to our global vaccines series, encompassing the World Vaccine Congress Washington and the World Vaccine Congress Europe. With an 18-year heritage, World Vaccine Congress events are annual gatherings of vaccine biopharma companies, from very senior executives to researchers, scientists and engineers, to discuss strategies to overcome vaccine development challenges. 

The multidisciplinarity of parasitology: host-parasite evolution and control in an ever changing world
September 28, London, UK
British Society of Parasitology
The meeting’s aim will be to explore and broadly discuss recent progress towards understanding host-parasite relationships, with a particular emphasis on vectors and intermediate hosts of human diseases.  The meeting will also be a convenient opportunity to develop a festschrift in Parasitology in honour of Prof David Rollinson (a former President of the BSP), marking over forty years of parasitological research.

NNN Conference 2017
September 28-30, Dakar, Senegal
Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network
NNN hosts its 2017 annual conference in Dakar, Senegal. More information to follow.

Designing and Managing Public Health Information Systems
October 2-November 27, Online
Informatics Academy
Designing and Managing Public Health Information Systems: 8 Steps to Success is a short, instructor-supported, distance learning course in public health informatics.

Digital Bridge Webinar Series: Building the Legal Framework Behind eCR
October 11, Webinar
Public Health Informatics Institute
As its first use case, the Digital Bridge initiative is working to establish a nationally scalable approach to electronic case reporting (eCR). Part of that work is identifying and defining the best legal approaches to make eCR more feasible. This webinar will highlight the challenges and recommended strategies to implement eCR on a national level.

World Sight Day
October 12
International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.

Women Leaders in Global Health
October 12, Stanford, CA
Women in Global Health
Women in Global Health is pleased to partner with Stanford University's Center for Innovation in Global Health to present the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference this October 12th, 2017. Registration is now open for this inaugural event. The conference builds on the global movement to press for gender equity in global health leadership by celebrating great works of emerging and established women in the field and cultivating the next generation of women leaders.

Global Handwashing Day
October 15
October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times

ASTMH 66th Annual Meeting
November 5-9, Baltimore, Maryland
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, government, non-profits, philanthropy, NGOs, industry, military and private practice. The meeting is designed for researchers, professors, government and public health officials, military personnel, travel clinic physicians, practicing physicians in tropical medicine, students and all health care providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health. 

Swedish-Ethiopian Course in Tropical Infections
November 13, 2017 - February 11, 2018, Stockholm, Sweden
Karolinska University Hospital
This is a course in clinical tropical medicine and HIV for clinicians. The overall aim is to provide general knowledge about infectious diseases which require or thrive in a warm climate and / or are important causes of morbidity and mortality in low-income countries. The focus is on diagnosis and treatment both in situations with scarce resources and in more affluent countries. The field visit to Ethiopia gives the participants a unique experience of the health system and infectious disease panorama in a developing country.

World Vaccine & Immunotherapy Congress West Coast
November 30 - December 1, San Diego, CA
Following on from the highly successful World Vaccine Congress series in Washington DC and Europe for the past 18 years, the San Diego event will offer learning and business development opportunities taking advantage of the rich biotech and funding environment that the west coast offers.

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
February 18, 2018, Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.

World Vaccine Washington
April 3-5, 2018, Washington, DC
Make sure you are at the forefront of the vaccines industry. No matter where your interest lies, we have content, networking and potential partners for you. By bringing eight events together under one roof, you get to choose the sessions which are the most applicable to help your business plan for the future of vaccine research, development and manufacture.

Multilateral Initiative on Malaria 
April 15-18, 2018, Dakar, Senegal
The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was established in 1997 with a mission to strengthen and sustain through collaborative research and training, the capacity of malaria-endemic countries in Africa to carry out research that is required to develop and improve tools for malaria control and to strengthen the research-control interphase.