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Schistosomiasis Vaccine Enters Clinical Trial & 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. 

RTI - Medium

Beach cleaner Bob Shaban with a handful of freshwater snails pulled from the banks of Lake Victoria in Uganda. These small snails often harbor the parasitic flatworm that transmits schistosomiasis.
KATIE NELSON/RTI

Lymphatic filariasis

Integrated risk mapping and landscape characterisation of lymphatic filariasis and loiasis in South West Nigeria

Tara A. Brant et al.
Parasite Epidemiology and Control
To better understand factors influencing [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF elimination in loiasis areas, this study conducted a cross-sectional survey on the prevalence and co-distribution of the two infections, and the potential demographic, landscape, human movement, and intervention-related risk factors at a micro-level in the South West zone of Nigeria. . . Mapping LF-loiasis distributions against landscape characteristics helped to highlight the micro-heterogeneity, identify potential [serious adverse event, or] SAE hotspots, and determine the safest and most appropriate treatment strategy.

K663 million for elephantiasis vaccination

Kyaw Ko Ko
Myanmar Times
The government has set aside K663 million for its elephantiasis eradication scheme this year, said Dr Zaw Lin, deputy director of the national project that envisages mass inoculation of the population in order to rid the country of the disease, also known as lymphatic filariasis. . . Out of the 28 townships in Mandalay region, 22 will be given the vaccination this year, and the medications will be for those townships that actually require it, said Dr Zaw Lin.

Onchocerciasis

SLIDESHOW: Neighbors Help Neighbors Combat River Blindness

The Carter Center
At the heart of the River Blindness Elimination Program in Nigeria are thousands of community volunteers who receive training and equipment to serve as community-directed distributors. They deliver accurate health information to their neighbors, administer the medications that combat the disease, and keep thorough records for Ministry of Health and Carter Center researchers to track progress. Get to know some of these volunteers here.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosoma vaccine to enter Phase Ib clinical trial

Allison Mickey
Baylor College of Medicine
The Sm-TSP-2 antigen was selected as the lead candidate to target the disease caused by S. mansoni. The first study to examine the vaccine’s safety and immunogenicity was conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit in 2015 in persons who had not lived in an area where the disease is endemic. The current trial will be conducted in Brazil, where S. mansoni is endemic. Investigators from the George Washington University will enroll subjects at a clinical site they have developed in Americaninhas, Brazil with Brazilian colleagues from the René Rachou Institute that is part of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) of the federal Brazilian government.

People, not statistics: Health Heroes in a Ugandan Fishing Village

Katie G. Nelson
Medium
I sat down with community drug distributors in Katosi who are working to prevent and control schistosomiasis, locally known as bilharzia. With support from Uganda’s Ministry of Health and ENVISION, USAID’s global project to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), they are educating their fellow neighbors about schistosomiasis prevention, and providing medicines to prevent and treat the illness.

Strengthening health systems to tackle schistosomiasis

Demran Ali
Imperial College London
umerous studies have been published on the importance of leadership training for Ministry of Health (MoH) staff members, however teaching on the topic is unfortunately not often recognised as being a key part in tackling health issues and can be excluded from strategies to improve health in these countries. The team at SCI has recognised this problem, and has focused one of its key operational research projects on the development and evaluation of a leadership training course. It has been designed for MoH staff members working on treatment programmes against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the countries SCI supports.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Preventive chemotherapy to control soil-transmitted helminthiasis averted more than 500 000 DALYs in 2015

Antonio Montresor et al.
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
We estimated that the implementation of [preventive chemotherapy, or] PC averted in 2015 over 44% of the [disability-adjusted life years, or] DALYs that would have been caused in children by [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH without the control intervention. A reduction in morbidity of over 75% is expected, if the global target is reached in 2020. If the programme is subsequently maintained, morbidity from STH will be almost totally removed by 2025.

Soil-transmitted helminth infection, loss of education and cognitive impairment in school-aged children. . .

Noel Pabalan et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This literature synthesis included all relevant epidemiologic studies regardless of design and investigated associations between STH infections and two outcomes: i) educational loss (attendance and scholastic achievement) and ii) psychometrically performance in four neurocognitive domains—memory, learning, reaction time and intelligence. Pooled results across 36 observational and intervention studies suggest that STH infection/non-treatment is associated with deficits in five of six domains evaluated and provide evidence in support of a cognitive and educational benefit of deworming for STH infections.

Launch of 'DeWorm3' collection

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
EurekAlert!
The DeWorm3 collection compiles numerous studies on STHs, including: Evaluations of the sustainability, scalability, and replicability of STH transmission interruption; A series of cluster randomized trials in India and Malawi to evaluate the impact of biannual community-wide MDA with albendazole compared to the current standard of care; and An analysis of the impact of different diagnostic tools to aid in soil-transmitted helminth transmission elimination

Trachoma

A Bath Without Water

Juee Arte
News Originators
Trachoma is an infection of the eye due to dirt getting into your eye. Multiple infections of trachoma can leave you permanently blind. The disease leaves eight million people permanently blind each and every year. The shocking part about it is that to avoid being infected with trachoma, all you have to do is wash your face: no medicine, no pills, no injections.

Cross-cutting

Why The World Ignores Diseases Of Poverty

Charlie Ensor
The Huffington Post
Because they’re not big killers, these diseases don’t attract a lot of funding that would go toward researching new drugs or providing hard-hit areas with greater support, according to Dr. W. Evan Secor, a microbiologist in the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s tough to get people to pay attention to diseases that aren’t already well-funded, he added.

Expanding the coverage of preventive chemotherapy for the prevention and control of neglected tropical diseases

Saurabh R Shrivastava, Prateek S Shrivastava and Jegadeesh Ramasamy
Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
From the program manager perspective, the good thing is that the drugs needed for these infections are safe, cheap, and are mostly donated by the pharmaceutical companies. . . However, still there is an extensive need to scale up the ongoing preventive chemotherapy activities as a lot needs to be done, and thus to counter the drug shortage, steps have been taken to facilitate the supply and delivery of medicines to the nations free of cost. This can only happen if there is a better forecasting, planning, reporting, and inflow of data to streamline the coordination and integration of activities.

Huge Progress in the Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases

Anouk Gouvras
BugBitten
The progress made on NTD control and elimination is impressive, however, even in the light of all this good news there is no time to become complacent. Innovative research in the field of parasites and vectors arms us with better diagnostics, better interventions, better strategies and stronger partners to combat these infections and mitigate the damage they cause.

The monetary value of human lives lost due to neglected tropical diseases in Africa

Joses Muthuri Kirigia and Gitonga N. Mburugu
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
The estimated value of 67 860 human lives lost in 2015 due to NTDs was Int$ 5 112 472 607. Out of that, 14.6% was borne by Group 1, 57.7% by Group 2 and 27.7% by Group 3 countries. The mean value of human life lost per NTD death was Int$ 231 278, Int$ 109 771 and Int$ 37 489 for Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 countries, respectively. The estimated value of human lives lost in 2015 due to NTDs was equivalent to 0.1% of the cumulative gross domestic product of the 53 continental African countries.

Other

Mapping the geographical distribution of podoconiosis in Cameroon using parasitological, serological, and clinical evidence. . .

Kebede Deribe et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Our investigation has demonstrated low prevalence but almost nationwide distribution of podoconiosis in Cameroon. Designing a podoconiosis control program is a vital next step. A health system response to the burden of podoconiosis is important, through case surveillance and morbidity management services.

Association between the level of education and knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding dengue in the Caribbean region. . .

Fredi Alexander Diaz-Quijano et al.
BMC Public Health
This is a survey of important dimensions including more than 10 municipalities in the Caribbean region of Colombia. . . Based on these results, it can be inferred that almost the entire population studied recognizes dengue as a disease whose symptoms include fever. This suggests that this sign could be the potential motivation to turn to the health system in symptomatic cases. However, no other symptom is recognized by the majority of the population.

Center Staffer Lays His Life on the Line

Adamu Sallau
The Carter Center
Scientific or logistical challenges aren’t the only issues Carter Center personnel have to deal with while tracking down, treating, and preventing neglected tropical diseases in remote places. Cultural issues often play a role as well, and we have to handle them respectfully and sensitively. . . Several years ago in Nigeria, where I work, we were helping a rural village rid itself of Guinea worm disease. The pond the people used for all their cooking, bathing, and washing was infested with Guinea worm larvae and needed to be treated.

Anti-mosquito Paint Program to Commence Soon

Lusaka Times
The Mansa District Public Health Officer says the anti-mosquito paint intervention is effective as the insecticide embodied on the paint lasts longer. He revealed that Mansa District is among the five districts in the Country chosen to conduct the study and if proven to be working the program will eventually roll out to other districts.

Rabies: What should you do if you’re exposed?

Robert Herriman
Outbreak News Today
Sadly, as many of you may know, a 6-year-old Eustis, Florida boy lost his battle with rabies earlier this week after contracting the lethal virus through a scratch from a bat. . . So what is rabies and what should you do if you are exposed? Joining me to answer these questions and more is Peter Costa, MPH. Peter is the rabies immune globulin brand director with Kedrion Biopharma in Fort Lee, NJ.

The classic explanation for the Black Death plague is wrong, scientists say

Ben Guarino
The Washington Post
“The classic example is the rat-flea transmission,” said lead study author Katharine Dean, a research fellow at the University of Oslo who studies infectious disease. Rodents have been unfairly maligned for their role in the pandemic, per a new mathematical model developed by Dean and her colleagues in Norway.

Upcoming Events

African Union Summit
January 22-19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) will take place from 22nd to 29th January 2018, under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

World Leprosy Day
January 28
World Leprosy Day, observed on the last Sunday of January, focuses on the target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children. Disabilities do not occur overnight, but happen after a prolonged period of undiagnosed disease. Early detection is key to achieve this target, alongside scaling up interventions to prevent leprosy transmission. Leprosy affected 212 000 more people globally in 2015. Of them 60% were in India. The other high-burden countries were Brazil and Indonesia. Of the new cases 8.9% were children and 6.7% presented with visible deformities.This year, WHO urges countries to scale-up interventions with a focus to avoid transmission of leprosy. An intensified, all-inclusive approach can prevent thousands of infections every year.

Quality Research for Effective Policies - LCNTDR highlights from 2017
January 31, London, UK
Join us for an evening of presentations and discussion aimed at highlighting research contributions to NTD policy, as well as a commemoration of the 6th anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs. Keynote address will be from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Professor Simon Brooker who will be discussing the roads from NTD research through to policy and large-scale implementation. 

All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and NTDS
February 6, London, UK
A special joint event between the APPMG and LCNTDR to mark the anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs. The meeting will bring together parliamentarians, members of the House of Lords, researchers, donors and NTD stakeholders to discuss how research is strengthening the evidence base and helping policy makers make informed decisions. A drinks reception will follow the meeting.

ISNTD Festival
March 27, London, UK
The ISNTD Festival brings together the best in communication, arts, entertainment and science to help complex public health messages reach patients, the public and global health professionals worldwide.

World Vaccine Washington
April 3-5, 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, 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.

GAELF10 Meeting
June 13-15, New Delhi, India
The 10th Meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF)

ISNTD d³
June 25-26, London, UK
ISNTD d3 will bring togther experts from within drug discovery and clinical trials to drive the debate and foster new partnerships & alliances leading to tangible outcomes in terms of new therapies to combat these diseases.

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5,  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.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

67th Annual ASTMH Meeting 
October 28 - November 1,New Orleans, Louisiana
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. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2018, Vancouver, Canada
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls – will serve as a fueling station for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. In the summer of 2019, over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will flock to Vancouver with dreams of accelerating progress girls and women everywhere.