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Tonga Eliminates Lymphatic Filariasis, New Mosquito Trap Provides Alternative to Human Landing and 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.

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A worker fogs a neighborhood on the outskirts of Colombo in Sri Lanka in an effort to ward off mosquitoes. The country is facing an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease.


Lymphatic filariasis

Tonga eliminates lymphatic filariasis after 3 centuries

Jenny Lei Ravelo
For more than three centuries, Tongans have suffered from kulokula fua — the local term for the large swelling in a person’s limbs, scrotum and breast caused by lymphatic filariasis. But earlier this week, Tonga finally eliminated the disease, making it the latest country this year to do so. This means the incidence rate is less than 1 percent — which is the WHO-mandated benchmark indicating a disease has been eliminated as a public health problem — in all endemic areas in the country.

The Current Status of Molecular Xenomonitoring for Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis

Nils Pilotte, Thomas R. Unnasch, Steven A. Williams
Trends in Parasitology
Preliminary recommendations now exist for the programmatic use of molecular xenomonitoring for lymphatic filariasis in Culex-vectored regions. Novel methodologies for molecular xenomonitoring, such as excreta/feces testing, have the potential to increase the feasibility of mosquito-based monitoring efforts for lymphatic filariasis. The Esperanza Window Trap has enabled the collection of black flies for the molecular xenomonitoring of onchocerciasis in the Americas and Uganda without the use of human landing collectors. The high-throughput screening of onchocerciasis vectors enables the practical use of molecular xenomonitoring as a component of onchocerciasis verification of elimination efforts.

Lymphatic filariasis patient identification in a large urban area of Tanzania: An application of a community-led mHealth system

Upendo Mwingira et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This paper presents a health community-led approach for rapidly identifying patients in urban areas using an SMS reporting system, MeasureSMS-Morbidity, that allows health workers to report individual-level patient information (age, sex, location, condition, severity), which can be then be viewed in real-time via a web browser...This information is now enabling the national neglected tropical disease (NTD) program to provide the essential care facilities and training for LF healthcare in locations in the city where it is most needed.

Community-based field implementation scenarios of a short message service reporting tool for lymphatic filariasis case estimates

Hayley E. Mableson et al.
A decision-making framework built from the key factors and questions, and the resulting four implementation scenarios is proposed as a means of using the MeasureSMS-Morbidity tool. This framework will help national LF programmes consider appropriate methods to implement a survey using this tool to improve estimates of the clinical burden of LF. Obtaining LF case estimates is a vital step towards the elimination of LF as a public health problem in endemic countries.

Integrated morbidity management for lymphatic filariasis and podoconiosis, Ethiopia

Kebede Deribe et al.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
In Ethiopia, an integrated approach for lymphatic filariasis and podoconiosis morbidity management was feasible. The processes used could be applicable in other settings where these diseases are co-endemic.


A new methodology for sampling blackflies for the entomological surveillance of onchocerciasis in Brazil

Érika S. do Nascimento-Carvalho et al.
The effectiveness of the MosqTent® trap was evaluated in endemic area to onchocerciasis in Brazil...The MosqTent® was more effective and efficient when compared to [Human Landing Catch, or] HLC. When comparing total blackflies captured/day, the MosqTent® was more efficient than HLC (p = 0.031) with a means of 799.4 blackflies/day versus 217.6 blackflies/day by HLC. The results demonstrated improved performance and high reliability of the MosqTent® compared to the traditional HLC method.

High prevalence of epilepsy in onchocerciasis endemic regions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Bethany Levick et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The prevalence of epilepsy in health areas in onchocerciasis endemic regions in the DRC was 2–10 times higher than in non-onchocerciasis endemic regions in Africa. Our data suggests that Ivermectin protects against epilepsy in an onchocerciasis endemic region. However, a prospective population based intervention study is needed to confirm this.

A Devastating Blinding Disease Is Crippling Communities In Africa, But It’s Easy For The World To Ignore

Hanna McNeish
The Huffington Post
Ivermectin, the drug used to treat river blindness, is not found in shops. It’s funded, brought into the country and doled out for free through a network of pharmaceutical companies, international charities and the government. The drug is distributed with caution because it can be dangerous, even deadly, for people to take if they’re also infected with eye worm, another parasitic disease found in some rainforest areas in Central and West Africa...For the vast majority of river blindness patients, however, ivermectin is a safe and effective medication that prevents blindness and reduces transmission of the disease. It has been taken successfully by tens of millions of people in Africa and Latin America and helped Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Guatemala eliminate river blindness within their borders.

A novel rapid test for detecting antibody responses to Loa loa infections

Bijan Pedram et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Herein, we present a novel lateral flow assay for L. loa infection. It is hoped that this test will help refine the current maps of loiasis, which will in turn allow optimization of programmatic decisions in the fight against O. volvulus and W. bancrofti, and ultimately against L. loa itself.

Characterizing Reactivity to Onchocerca volvulus Antigens in Multiplex Bead Assays

Karla R. Feeser et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Multiplex bead assays (MBAs) may provide a powerful integrated tool for monitoring, evaluation, and post-elimination surveillance of onchocerciasis and co-endemic diseases; however, the specificity and sensitivity of Onchocerca volvulus antigens have not been characterized within this context. An MBA was developed to evaluate three antigens (OV-16, OV-17, and OV-33) for onchocerciasis.

2016 Annual Highlights

Mectizan Donation Program
By the end of 2016, more than 7 billion tablets (or 2.5 billion treatments) of Mectizan® had been shipped since the inception of the program in 1987. In 2016, 167.9 million treatments were approved for mass treatment for river blindness elimination in 23 countries in Africa, and in Yemen. For LF, 250.7 million treatments were approved for co-administration of Mectizan and albendazole in 20 countries.


Increases in schistosomiasis linked with ecological impacts of dams

Christina Faust
Reintroducing native predators to catchments could provide a win-win scenario: reducing transmission of schistosomiasis and restoring food webs in these altered watersheds. Vector control is used to control schistosomiasis in several regions, but involves molluscicide which can be detrimental to many organisms. Reintroduction of prawns can provide similar benefits in controlling vectors and have fewer negative consequences.

Modeling the risk of transmission of schistosomiasis in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, Nigeria using satellite

Oluwaremilekun G. Ajakaye, Oluwatola I. Adedeji and Paul O. Ajayi
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Urogenital schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease whose transmission depends on environmental factors. The disease is one of the risk factors of bladder cancer, the second most common urogenital cancer after prostate cancer in Nigeria. This study aims to identify area suitable for the transmission of the disease through the use of environmental factors...This study confirmed that analysis of environmental factors using relevant techniques can be applied in the study of transmission of parasitic diseases.

Urinary schistosomiasis among vulnerable children in a rehabilitation home in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria

Obioma Uchendu et al.
BMC Infectious Diseases
The burden of schistosomiasis is high among children of migrant workers and they serve as reservoirs for transmission of the disease. Government needs to work synergistically with NGOs, FBOs and other partners to achieve schistosomiasis prevention and control among this particular group.

Cystoscopy: A useful investigation tool to diagnose urinary schistosomiasis in Ireland, a non-endemic country

K.Seomangal, B. Kutasy and T.Sri Paran
Journal of Pediatric Surgery Case Reports
Urinary schistosomiasis is caused by the parasite Schistosoma haematobium and is endemic in the African and Asian countries, usually in areas with no proper sanitation. We present a case of a 12 year old boy seen in Ireland where these parasites are not endemic. An uncommon modality was used to confirm the condition and after being treated with Praziquantel the child made an excellent recovery.

ISNTD Bites 2017: COUNTDOWN Discusses Schistosomiasis Interruption

Prof. Russell Stothard gave a presentation Interrupting Schistosomiasis Transmission: Taking sensible steps in Snail Control in Cameroon, one of the partner countries where COUNTDOWN is conducting research to inform how to cost-effectively upscale MDA programmes.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Infections with Schistosoma mansoni and geohelminths among school children dwelling along the shore of the Lake Hawassa...

Bamlaku Tadege and Techalew Shimelis
The study showed high prevalence of STHs and moderate rate of schisotosomiasis. Mass deworming twice a year for STHs and once every two years for S. mansoni, further to strengthening other prevention measures, is critically needed to reduce these infections to inconsequential level.

Serologic Monitoring of Public Health Interventions against Strongyloides stercoralis

Paola Vargas et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Northwestern Argentina is endemic for soil-transmitted helminths, and annual deworming programs are carried out in prioritized areas. High prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis was reported in this area; therefore, control programs including ivermectin are being evaluated...Our results support the conclusion that a combined intervention including deworming and improvements in life conditions is more effective, in terms of the proportion of subjects cured than deworming alone. Furthermore, we found that NIE-ELISA is a useful test for assessing the response to treatment and to evaluate the outcome of control intervention programs.

Prevalence of Anaemia and Associated Risk Factors among Children in North-western Uganda: A Cross Sectional Study

Ismail Dragon Legason, Alex Atiku, Ronald Ssenyonga, Peter Olupot-Olupot and John Banson Barugahare
BMC Hematology
This study demonstrates that anaemia is more prevalent in the under-5 age. The risk factors are stunting and low maternal parity. Interventions that address nutritional deficiencies in both pre-school and school children are recommended. Malaria and helminthiasis control measures counter the risk of anaemia. Further studies are required to investigate the association between maternal parity and anaemia found in this study.


WHO announces progress on trachoma elimination

In 2016, 85 million people were treated with an antibiotic to protect against trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, according to new data from the World Health Organization (WHO)...WHO’s announcement highlights some of the significant progress that has been made to eliminate trachoma, yet there is still more work to be done. Some 190 million people worldwide continue to be at risk of the infectious disease and it is currently a public health problem in 42 countries.

Record-breaking numbers of surgeries and drug distributions result in trachoma decline

International Coalition for Trachoma Control
An increase in surgeries and drug distribution programs are contributing to a steady decline in trachoma prevalence, the latest progress report from the World Health Organization Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020 Alliance) shows.

Population-based prevalence survey of follicular trachoma and trachomatous trichiasis in the Casamance region of Senegal

Emma M. Harding-Esch et al.
BMC Public Health
With a prevalence <5%, [trachomatous inflammation, follicular, or] TF does not appear to be a significant public health problem in this region. However, TF monitoring and surveillance at sub-district level will be required to ensure that elimination targets are sustained and that TF does not re-emerge as a public health problem. [Trachomatous trichiasis, or] TT surgery remains the priority for trachoma elimination efforts in the region, with an estimated 1819 TT surgeries to conduct.

Evaluation of Global Trachoma Mapping Project

UK Department for International Development
In July 2012, Sightsavers was awarded £10.6 million by the UK government Department for International Development (DFID) to implement the Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP). The aim of the GTMP was to map trachoma, through the conduct of standardised baseline prevalence surveys, across all suspected endemic districts globally by 2015. Over three years, the GTMP has delivered over half of all the trachoma surveys that have ever been conducted (56%). With mapping activity recently completed, this end of project evaluation aims to establish the extent to which the project has successfully mapped trachoma in the project countries in line with the Logframe in an efficient and cost effective manner, to explore the implications and value generated by project activity and to identify any key lessons learnt which could be taken forward in the planning of other disease mapping programmes.


‘Breakthrough’ mosquito trap uses human smell and heat

Ben Deighton
A mosquito trap that uses a person’s smell combined with warm water and a dark cylindrical shape could transform how the insects are caught in developing countries, say its creators. The trap, developed at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom, collected many more mosquitoes than so-called human landing catches, where collectors gather mosquitoes from their own exposed skin, during field tests in Burkina Faso.

Keys Test New Way To Eradicate Mosquitoes By Infecting Them With Bacteria

Nancy Klingener
While mainland South Florida ramps up its battle against the mosquito that can carry Zika, the Florida Keys has already begun the region's most intensive mosquito control operation...The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is releasing male mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria on Stock Island..."When these males are infected and they mate with the females, it results in sterility," said Catherine Pruszynski, a research biologist with the Keys mosquito control district.

LSTM awarded £6.4 million to strengthen capacity to control malaria and other diseases

Clare Bebb
Researchers at LSTM have been awarded £6.4 million from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to strengthen the global capacity to control vector borne diseases. Professor Hilary Ranson, Head of LSTM's Department of Vector Biology, will lead a team of experts working with leading research institutes and national disease control programmes in three African countries with exceptionally high burdens of disease, to develop evidence based solutions for integrated vector control.

Ministry of AYUSH developing new drugs on scientific lines

eHealth Magazine
In a move to popularise Indian traditional medicinal systems, the [Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, or] AYUSH Ministry is working relentlessly to develop several new drugs for the treatment of both communicable and non-communicable diseases on scientific lines...The Minister said the [Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, or] CCRAS is developing eight new drugs for treatment of diseases or problems related to old age, bronchial asthma, diabetes mellitus, lymphatic filariasis, ovarian cancer, dengue, wound healing and migraine. The [Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, or] CCRH is developing 12 new drugs for various diseases including dengue, malaria, leishmaniasis and diarrhoea.

Priority review vouchers for tropical disease drugs simply aren’t working

Ed Silverman
A controversial program created by Congress to spur development of new drugs for neglected tropical diseases has failed to achieve its goals, according to a new analysis.


Dengue Fever Cases Top 100,000 In Sri Lanka's Outbreak

Courtney Columbus
NPR Goats and Soda
Sri Lanka celebrated its eradication of malaria last year. But now the country faces another mosquito-borne illness: dengue fever. It's also sometimes known as "breakbone fever" because of the severe pain it can cause...More than 107,000 suspected cases of dengue have been reported so far this year, according to Sri Lanka's ministry of health. That's almost twice the number of people diagnosed with dengue in Sri Lanka last year. The death toll from this outbreak is about 300 people, the IFRC says.

Aedes ægypti control in urban areas: A systemic approach to a complex dynamic

Marilia Sá Carvalho
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The available strategy for controlling the diseases transmitted by Aedes ægypti (dengue fever, Zika, and chikungunya) relies on continued community participation. Despite slogans emphasizing how easy it should be, no country has achieved it since the seventies. To better investigate potentially sustainable interventions, we developed a systemic model based on a multidisciplinary approach, integrating as deeply as possible specialized knowledge and field experience.

How mosquitos interact with chikungunya virus depends on origin

Sarah CP Williams
PLOS Research News
When it comes to how susceptible a mosquito is to becoming infected with, and transmitting, chikungunya virus, not all mosquitos are the same. The interactions between mosquitos and the virus vary not only based on species and strain, but where the mosquitos come from, researchers report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Hunting-related pathogen exposure not just for adult males

Hunting and slaughtering wild animals in Western and Central Africa can put humans at risk of contracting zoonotic infections, including Ebola virus and Lassa virus. While previous studies have suggested that this risky hunting behavior is mostly limited to adult males, a new study finds that women and children also participate.

Why the number of people with more than one chronic condition is rising in Africa

Tolullah Oni and Natacha Berkowitz
The Conversation
More and more people around the world are getting sick with two or more health conditions at the same time. For example, people are increasingly coping with two chronic non-infectious diseases, like hypertension and diabetes...To tackle the problem, solutions need to focus on what’s causing multimorbidity. This means that policymakers must look beyond the health sector – they must engage with multiple sectors. This is necessary as most risk factors relating to multimorbidity are driven by factors that lie outside the health care system.

Upcoming Events

World Humanitarian Day
August 19
World Health Organization
Every day, humanitarian aid workers stand on the front lines of war and disaster, braving tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to those who need it most. World Humanitarian Day (WHD), which takes place every year on 19 August, recognizes the aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilizes people to advocate for humanitarian action. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

IEA 2017 World Congress of Epidemiology
August 19-22, Saitama, Japan
International Epidemiological Association
Following the 20th WCE in Anchorage in 2014, we believe to provide opportunities to exchange information about the development of epidemiology in all the fields and to strengthen the relationship among epidemiologists in the world. The main theme is “Global/Regional/Local Health and Epidemiology in a Changing World”, which is appropriate one for discussing the 3-year development of epidemiology from 2014 through 2017.

World Mosquito Day
August 20
Malaria No More
World Mosquito Day on 20 August marks the historic discovery by British doctor Sir Ronald Ross in 1897 that female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans, laying the foundations for scientists across the world to better understand the deadly role of mosquitoes in disease transmission and come up with effective innovative interventions.

Neglected Diseases in South East Asia: Building Capacity in Epidemiological Modelling
August 28-September 1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
University of Malaya
Southeast Asia countries face common threats from infections, including neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and neglected zoonotic diseases (NZDs) that particularly affect marginalized communities―the most vulnerable to exposure and least able to seek treatment. Understanding the transmission and control of infectious diseases can be aided by mathematical modelling, helping to predict disease outbreaks, quantify intervention impact, estimate economic and health-care burdens, and inform cost-effective public health strategies. This workshop will introduce participants to topics from bacterial & viral to helminth NTDs and NZDs through series of lectures and practicals followed by group discussions and Q&A sessions, addressing: a) basic models for vector-borne diseases; b) infection intensity frameworks for helminth infections, and c) models for zoonotic infections.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.