Sign up to receive our news roundups

Artificial Nose Can Sniff out Leishmaniasis, Mosquito "Birth Control" Being Tested & 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.  

NTD News Roundup

A dog in Brazil having hair clipped for the Leishmaniasis test.




Lymphatic filariasis

Guyana launches mass drug campaign to end elephantiasis

Jamaica Observer
At-risk populations throughout Guyana will, over the next month, be treated for lymphatic filariasis (LF), commonly known as elephantiasis, in a bid to eliminate the disease as a public health problem. The Ministry of Public Health, Guyana, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), launched the mass drug administration campaign that will see health workers and volunteers visiting homes, workplaces and schools in eight regions throughout the country to administer the pills.

Improving Access to Health Services in Ghana through Evidence-Based Health Worker Training

AIM Initiative
The AIM Initiative has received an 18-month grant from the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) to study and improve access to morbidity management and disability prevention services for people affected by lymphatic filariasis (LF) in two regions of Ghana. AIM implements this project through the Ghana Health Service as part of AIM’s approach to build governments’ capacity and ensure that marginalized populations have access to care.

Lymphatic Filariasis needs wider audience and greater awareness: Dr Suman Rijal

Shahid Akhter
ET Health World
"My biggest priority would be how to improve the coverage and compliance of mass-drug administration of IDA. If you are able to have a coverage of 75% or more, you can achieve elimination in 2 years. If it has come down to 65%, you need 3 years and if you come down further, you will require more number of years and if you look at it cost-effective wise, there would be a benefit by putting resources for improving the coverage so as to get the benefit of having a wider coverage of this mass-drug administration of IDA."


Elimination of human onchocerciasis: progress report, 2018–2019

World Health Organization
Weekly Epidemiological Record
Progress continued to be made in global interruption of transmission of onchocerciasis (Map 1). At the end of 2018, 217.5 million people were living in areas at risk for transmission of onchocerciasis, and the number should increase with mapping of onchocerciasis elimination. The number of people to whom ivermectin was delivered through MDA has increased by at least 6 million since 2017, reaching 151.9 million, continuing the trend of annual increases in the reach of the onchocerciasis programme.


Guarding against a devastating tropical disease

Morgridge Institute for Research
Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes. Once schistosomes enter the human body, they travel to blood vessels around the liver or bladder and cause severe health problems. A single drug, Praziquantel, is currently the only form of treatment available. However, Praziquantel is only able to kill the parasite in its adult form, and is ineffective on other stages of the parasite’s life cycle. That means Praziquantel can only help treat people who are already suffering from the disease and cannot be used preventatively. Researchers in the Newmark lab are working to develop a treatment that protects people from being infected in the first place.

Prevalence and co-infection of schistosomiasis/hepatitis B among rural populations in endemic areas in Hubei, China

Yupeng Zhang, Yaofei Xie, Qi Chen, Xuyu Chen, Zhuangzhuang Dong and Xiaodong Tan
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Both hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and schistosomiasis are important public health problems in China. Concurrent infection between HBV and schistosomiasis is often observed in areas where schistosomiasis is endemic. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of schistosomiasis and HBV in schistosomiasis-affected areas, to explore whether schistosomiasis patients are more susceptible to HBV and to determine if the prevalence of HBV in high-endemic areas of schistosomiasis is higher than in low-endemic areas.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Prevalence and risk factors of intestinal parasitic infestations among preschool children in Sekota town, Waghimra zone, Ethiopi

Mesfin Wudu Kassaw et al.
BMC Pediatrics
The prevalence of intestinal parasitic infestations in Sekota town on wet mount and formal ether concentration techniques was 83(21.9%), (95% CI, 17.7–26.3%) and 113(29.9%), (95% CI, 25.1–34.8%) respectively. In multivariable analysis, not taking medication as periodical deworming (AOR, 95% CI), (2.5, 1.5–4.3), presence of animals in the living room (AOR, 95% CI) (3.1, 1.8–5.3), and being a government employee as an occupation (AOR, 95% CI), (3.4, 1.1–10.0) were increasing the odds of intestinal parasitic infestations.

Science Notes – Parasites and poo at Must Farm

Kathryn Krakowka
Current Archaeology
In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we dive into the world of palaeoparasitology, and examine what the study of faecal matter can tell us about human health and behaviour in the past. . . At Brean Down, a coastal farming site in southern England, roundworm – a soil-transmitted helminth – was a commonly identified parasite; indeed, roundworm has been found to be common in many British and European sites stretching from the Neolithic through to the medieval period. The fact that it was not found at Must Farm is notable, and suggests that while the environment and diet of its inhabitants made them more vulnerable to aquatic parasites, at the same time it protected them from infections that require dry land to complete their life cycle.


Pgp3 seroprevalence and associations with active trachoma and ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection in Malawi. . .

Sarah E. Burr et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Based on current global policy, the prevalence of TF indicates that a further year of antibiotic MDA is warranted in four of six [evaluation units, or] EUs yet the very low levels of infection cast doubt on the universal applicability of [trachomatous inflammation—follicular, or] TF-based cut-offs for antibiotic [mass drug administration, or] MDA. Pgp3 seroprevalence was similar to that reported following MDA in other settings that have reached the elimination target however the predictive value of any particular level of seropositivity with respect to risk of subsequent infection recrudescence is, as yet, unknown.

Posterior lamellar versus bilamellar tarsal rotation surgery for trachomatous trichiasis. . .

Esmael Habtamu et al.
eClinical Medicine
We re-examined the participants of a clinical trial four years after enrolment to identify which of the two most commonly used eyelid surgery procedures to treat the blinding stage of trachoma (trachomatous trichiasis, TT), the posterior Lamellar Tarsal Rotation (PLTR) and Billamelar Tarsal Rotation (BLTR), gives better results in the long-term.

Australia to close gap on Indigenous eye health by 2020

Mirage News
Australia is on track to close the gap for vision for Indigenous Australians by the end of next year, but this won’t be achieved without ongoing support for long-term solutions, according to a new report. The 2019 Annual Update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision reveals that 50 per cent of systemic issues identified in Indigenous eye care have been fixed.

He chased the story behind his surgeon uncle’s long-lost portrait - and found complicated family intrigue

Charles Fox
The Philadelphia Inquirer
It was among the Blackfeet in northwestern Montana, during the final decade of his life, that Webster achieved the accomplishments he was most proud of. Every summer from 1923 through 1926, Webster traveled to Browning, Mont., near Glacier National Park, to perform approximately 400 free eye surgeries to offset an epidemic of trachoma, a bacterial infection of the eye that can cause blindness. Trachoma affected 25% of the Native American community, and an even higher percentage among the Blackfeet.


Crossing the Finish Line: Sustaining Behavior Change for the Prevention and Elimination of NTDs

Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network WASH Working Group
Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation facilities, such as working toilets linked with safely managed sanitation services and continuous water supply for hygiene purposes, is a critical first step, but is not enough. WASH infrastructure must be complemented by cross-sectoral integrated programs that bring health, education and WASH stakeholders together to raise awareness about the link between good health and hygiene and shift long-held cultural norms. In a nationally representative survey recently conducted in Uganda, researchers found that improved access to WASH facilities alone did not lower the prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis. Rather, lower prevalence of the disease was associated with changing attitudes to open defecation and increased toilet use.

Research Spotlight – Development of Tools to Re-Orient Social Mobilization Strategies to Close the Coverage-Compliance Gap

Caitlin Worrell, Christiana Titaley and Alison Krentel
Our aim was to create a simple, field-applicable tool to identify factors influencing MDA compliance and provide guidance on tailoring locally-relevant social mobilization messages. We used the Risks, Attitudes, Norms, Abilities, and Self-Regulation (RANAS) behavioural framework to identify behavioural factors influencing MDA compliance for lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Ambon, Indonesia. RANAS promotes a systematic approach to assess the influence of five primary behavioural blocks on a specific behaviour. The results guide the design of effective social mobilization tools and messages that address specific factors affecting behaviours in a community.

RLM Forum to focus on ‘accelerating the pace’ towards infectious disease elimination

Esraa Ismail and Rasha Abubaker
Emirates News Agency
The Reaching the Last Mile, RLM, Forum announced today its line-up of high-level speakers and sessions to take place at the invitation-only event in Abu Dhabi on 19th November. The Forum, which will focus on Accelerating the Pace in infectious disease elimination, will feature a series of major announcements and milestone moments, including hosting the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, GPEI, pledging moment. From global health leaders to protagonists in philanthropy, notable speakers at the Forum will include: Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Former Administrator of UNDP; Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation; Peter Sands, CEO of the Global Fund; and Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; and Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

World Toilet Day – Nigeria joins global community to advocate for “Toilets for All”

Charity Warigon
World Health Organization
Nigeria has flagged off series of activities, including engagement with journalists, to advocate for clean toilets for all, to commemorate 2019 World Toilet Day. The theme for this year is, “leaving no one behind”, in line with current global efforts towards achieving universal access to sanitation whereby, no one left is behind. Speaking at a Press conference in Abuja on 12 November 2019, the Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, (FMoE), Alhaji Muhammad Mahmood said, “the Federal Government is committed to addressing the sanitation challenges, including open defecation in the country and ensuring proper management of excreta. This commitment is in line with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s declaration of a state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene in the country in November 2018.”


Electronic nose to 'sniff' dogs for deadly tropical disease

Lancaster University
Now a team led by Professor Gordon Hamilton of Lancaster University working with a company called RoboScientific has shown that a new test based on the smell of infected dogs—using an electronic nose—has an accuracy of around 95 percent. . . The e-nose approach seems to be highly reliable, simple to use and is non-invasive, as there is no need for a blood sample. Its development also opens up opportunities to diagnose Leishmaniasis in humans and to test for other tropical diseases such as malaria, trypanosomiasis and Chagas disease.

Mosquito sterilization offers new opportunity to control dengue, Zika and chikungunya

The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a form of insect birth control by mass rearing in dedicated facilities of sterilized male mosquitos, which are then released to mate with females in the wild. As these do not produce any offspring, the insect population declines over time. TDR (the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Health Organization have developed a guidance document for countries interested in testing the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) for Aedes mosquitoes.

A faster and stronger rabies vaccine has been developed

Rachael Harper
Drug Target Review
James McGettigan from Thomas Jefferson University, USA, and colleagues have now turned to a signalling protein known as B cell activating factor (BAFF), which binds directly to B cells. They designed a rabies vaccine which included an attenuated rabies virus and BAFF on the same particle, hoping to target the vaccine directly to B cells for activation. Then they tested the new vaccine in mice.

Strong country capacity, improved tools & community engagement critical to enhancing dengue prevention & control

United News of India
Dengue continues to be neglected, with a lack of resources at country level and declining research funds in recent years”, said Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “We need to turn the tide and refocus efforts on building country capacity and working across sectors using locally adapted interventions to implement sustainable dengue prevention and control,” Dr Malecela said.

Increasing leprosy cases: cause for concern

Santosh Dulal
Himalayan Times
To resolve the existing challenges and burdens in leprosy, the government, in collaboration with NGOs and INGOs working directly or indirectly on leprosy, has been engaged in early leprosy detection and treatment. As a result, 190,000 patients have undergone MDT since 1982. However, around 30,000 people still live with disabilities due to delayed diagnosis of leprosy.

How do you solve a problem like malaria?

Mark Honigsbaum
The Optimist
Malaria – from the Italian word for “bad air” - is easily prevented, however. For instance, in the 1930s Italy eliminated the disease from the Pontina, the grassy wetlands that stretch from the gates of Rome to the Tyrrhenian sea, by draining the marshes and distributing quinine to farmers and shepherds. So why is it that, for most of history, solving a problem like malaria has been anything but straightforward? To answer that you have to understand a little about the life cycle of the parasite and the environmental and social conditions that favor the 40 species of Anopheles mosquito that transmit malaria and endanger humans in different parts of the world.


Amref Health Africa
We are looking for passionate health innovators who have a proven business and health impact model, have tested their innovation for scale in SSA, and fit the needs of Amref country offices to enable a demand-driven innovation program and strong partnerships for scale. . . Next call for applications: 14th of October, 2019 – 30th of November 2019

Upcoming Events 

ASTMH 68th Annual Meeting
November 20-24, National Harbor, Maryland
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. 

Epidemics7: International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics
December 3-6, Charleston, SC
Join us for the Seventh International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics to share another three days of intense dialogue on our ideas, data, insight, models and methods. This conference regularly attracts over 400 scientists, with representatives from many of the major research groups in this area worldwide. If you want to meet many of your peers in this field, this is the place to go. 

International Conference on NTDs in Africa (IncoNTD)
December 4-6, Nairobi, Kenya
The 1st  International Conference on NTDs (IncoNTD) in Africa seeks to bring together national and international stakeholders involved in the control and elimination of NTDs. IncoNTD is jointly organized by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the Kenya Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya from December 4 – 6, 2019. 

Global Health Landscape Symposium 2019
December 6, Washington, DC
This year's symposium will explore a number of themes and considerations that get to the heart of what it will mean – for all actors – to #DemocratizeGlobalHealth. To achieve health for all people, national health programs must be driven by country strategies, local leadership, and domestic resources rather than external donors or partners. 

CHOGM 2020
June 2020, Kigali, Rwanda
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a pivotal agenda-setting and decision-making space for the diverse community of 53 Commonwealth countries. With varying economic statuses and vast oceans between them, our leaders meet every two years to explore how they can pool their resources and innovations to transform joint challenges into exciting opportunities. In June 2020, Rwanda will host the meeting. Connected by similar traditions, language, governance and legal structures, presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, from Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, will travel to Kigali to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens.

11th IAPB General Assembly
October 12-14, 2020, Singapore
The General Assembly will mark the end of the VISION 2020: The Right to Sight period. It will present a great opportunity to take stock, celebrate successes and make plans for the future. A key focus will be on the WHO’s World Report on Vision and its framework for the future. The event will have three co-chairs leading on three streams: “Excellence”, “Eye Health in the West Pacific” and “Sustainability”. 

Expo 2020 Dubai: Global Best Practice Programme
October 20 2020 - April 10, 2021
Expo 2020 Dubai’s platform to showcase projects that have provided tangible solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. It will highlight simple but effective initiatives, which localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and can be adapted, replicated, and scaled to achieve an enhanced global impact.