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Egypt Eliminates Lymphatic Filariasis as a Public Health Problem & 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.

Egypt Eliminates LF as Public Health Concern

WHO validates Egypt as the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.


Lymphatic filariasis

Egypt: first country in Eastern Mediterranean region to eliminate lymphatic filariasis

Ashok Moloo, World Health Organization
“Our ultimate aim was to eliminate this disease by adopting pro-poor, cost-effective public-health interventions”, said Dr Ayat Haggag, Undersecretary for Endemic Diseases, Ministry of Health and Population, Egypt. “Our government is determined to defeat other NTDs such as schistosomiasis, trachoma, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, leprosy, leishmaniasis and dengue.”

Elimination of lymphatic filariasis: current perspectives on mass drug administration

John O. Gyapong et al.
Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine
Following the London declaration on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in 2012 and inspired by the WHO 2020 roadmap to control or eliminate NTDs, the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) intensified preventive chemotherapy and management of morbidity as the two main strategies to enhance progress towards the elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF). In this review, the authors conclude that the 2020 elimination goal can be achieved if issues pertaining to the drug distribution, health system and implementation challenges are addressed.

Not Stigma But Awareness A Hurdle To Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis By 2020

Snigdha Basu
NDTV (India)
As per WHO data, India contributes to 40% of the [lymphatic filariasis or] LF infection burden worldwide. A mass drug administration program to protect people from LF has been underway since 2004 under the flagship campaign 'Hathipaon Mukt Bharat.' The aim of the program is to deliver preventive medicines to high-risk communities with specific focus on the four most endemic states: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

Crystal structure of Brugia malayi venom allergen-like protein-1 (BmVAL-1), a vaccine candidate for lymphatic filariasis

Rabih Darwiche et al.
International Journal of Parasitology
This study is part of ongoing efforts to characterize the structures and functions of important B. malayi proteins.


Amadi gov’t raises concern over increasing cases of river blindness

Alhadi Hawari
Eye Radio
Governor Joseph Ngere of Amadi State in South Sudan: “I am appealing to the WHO and other organizations that focus on river blindness programs, to have serious attention on Mvolo and surrounding areas in Bahr Garendi County and even now is spreading to the Mundri and Lui areas.”

Onchocerciasis Committees in 3 Countries Discuss Surveillance

The Carter Center
Eye of the Eagle
The Carter Center in the second half of 2017 supported onchocerciasis elimination expert advisory committee meetings in Uganda (August), Ethiopia (October), and Nigeria (December).


Study of diagnostic accuracy of Helmintex, Kato-Katz, and POC-CCA methods for diagnosing intestinal schistosomiasis NE Brazil

Catieli Gobetti Lindholz
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This study compared the relative performance of the point-of-care immunodiagnostic for detecting schistosome cathodic circulating antigen (POC-CCA) method, which detects parasite molecules released in urine and the Helmintex (HTX) method, which isolates eggs from large volumes of feces in a magnetic particle-based assay, together with the Kato-Katz method. These results provide insights into the deployment of diagnostic tools for efforts to eliminate schistosomiasis in low endemic regions.

Diagnosis of schistosomiasis mansoni: an evaluation of existing methods and research towards single worm pair detection

Paul Ogongo, Thomas M. Kariuki and R. Alan Wilson
The inadequacy of current diagnostics for the detection of low worm burdens in humans means that schistosomiasis mansoni is more widespread than previously acknowledged. Despite recent advances in the definition of the schistosome secretome, there have been no comprehensive biomarker investigations of parasite products in the urine of infected patients. Certainly, the admirable goal of eliminating schistosomiasis will not be achieved unless individuals with low worm burdens can be diagnosed.

An Epidemiological Trend of Urogenital Schistosomiasis in Ethiopia

Bayissa Chala and Workineh Torben
Frontiers in Public Health
This article traces an overall picture of the epidemiological status of urogenital schistosomiasis in Ethiopia, surveying past and current trends and control programs within the context of changing climate and development-driven ecological transformations like dam construction and irrigation schemes.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Gut microbes influence severity of intestinal parasitic infections

Julia Evangelou Strait
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
A new study indicates that the kinds of microbes living in the gut influence the severity and recurrence of parasitic worm infections in developing countries. The findings, by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, suggest that manipulating the gut’s microbial communities may protect against intestinal parasites, which affect more than 1 billion people worldwide.

Host responses to intestinal nematodes

Koubun Yasuda and Kenji Nakanishi
International Immunology
There is a wide variety of methods and sites of parasitic infections; similarly, there is a wide variety of host immune responses that are dependent upon the nature of the infecting parasite. This paper investigates the broader mechanism of innate vs acquired anti-helminthic immunity.


Significant progress on eliminating blinding trachoma in Uganda

Uganda is one of 12 Commonwealth countries where the Trachoma Initiative is working to eliminate blinding trachoma. Over the last four years, the Initiative has worked in 33 Ugandan districts, provided sight-saving surgery to nearly 27,000 people, trained 65 surgeons, and mobilised nearly 5,000 case finders to identify those in need of treatment. Before it began, 10 million Ugandans were at risk of trachoma. The Ugandan Ministry of Health now estimates that less than 300,000 people are at risk of catching the disease. As a result the country is on track to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem by 2020.

End in sight for trachoma

Aggrey D. Mugisha
Daily Monitor (Uganda)
Kudo Kapel in her 70s, suffers from trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness in Uganda. Outside her manyata, a screening team member shines a torch in her eyes to check if she needs an operation. Both of Kapel’s eyes need to be operated on. With a bit of nudging from the Village Health Team (VHT) members and health workers, Kapel gets into the waiting vehicle, social mobilization at work. The minor operation takes 30 minutes and she is led to the recovery room to get some antibiotics to help in the healing of the wound... Kudo Kapel’s image remains latched on one’s mind. She kicked the trachoma monster from her eye.

Progress made to trachoma elimination

Emily McCormick
Optometry Today
Reflecting on its achievements on Commonwealth Day (12 March), Sightsavers highlighted that 182 million people are at risk of going blind because of trachoma globally, while 1.9 million people are already blind or visually impaired because of it.

NEMO Aids Trachoma Survey Teams in Eastern Amhara

Caleb Ebert
Eye of the Eagle
Not the Disney-Pixar clownfish, NEMO is an acronym for Next-generation Evaluation, Measurement, and Observation. NEMO empowers country staff to be fully involved from creating the survey to uploading the collected data without ever requiring an Internet connection. With the NEMO-supported survey ready for deployment, 10 teams scattered throughout four woredas, or districts, to collect data on 7,200 individuals from over 1,600 households.

Ethiopia's Amhara Region Pursues Ambitious Surgery Goal

The Carter Center
Eye of the Eagle
The second annual review meeting for the trachoma program in the Amhara region of Ethiopia was held July 26–27, 2017, in Bahir Dar City. At the July meeting, stakeholders from all administrative levels discussed several issues, including ways to increase surgical output.

Love of Sudan Keeps Trachoma Program Officer Motivated

The Carter Center
Eye of the Eagle
The work of a trachoma program officer in Sudan is challenging, but love of country and love for people have motivated Zeinab Abdalla Mohammed Ahmed to press on for 10 years. “It is very blessed when a drug dose or any other type of service is provided to a child, a sick woman, or an old man in a remote area,” she says. “I give thanks to Allah who lets me aid people in need and thanks to The Carter Center for their trust in my work.”


Imaging systems and algorithms to analyze biological samples in real-time using mobile phone microscopy

Akshaya Shanmugam et al.
Traditionally, the analysis of biological samples has been restricted to a lab or a central facility. The downside of microscope is the cost, size, and fragility of the equipment. The reliability of this method also depends on the experience of the clinician or the pathologist. Two solutions have been proposed to address the drawbacks of the device and the techniques: miniaturization and mobile phone microscopy.

Stakeholders discuss research findings on Neglected Tropical Diseases

Christabel Addo
Ghana News Agency
Stakeholders of the COUNTDOWN Project have converged in Accra to discuss research findings on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and implement appropriate strategies towards addressing those issues at the district level.

Timing of host feeding drives rhythms in parasite replication

Kimberley F. Prior et al.
PLOS Pathogens
The discovery of daily rhythms in parasites dates back to the Hippocratic era and a taxonomically diverse range of parasites (including fungi, helminths, Coccidia, nematodes, trypanosomes, and malaria parasites. In this study, Prior et al. reveal that parasites schedule rhythms in their replication to coordinate with rhythms in glucose in the host’s blood driven by host feeding times.

PAHO chief identifies top health priorities for the Caribbean

Jamaica Observer
The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa F Etienne, has identified what she regards as the top health priorities for the Americas, including the Caribbean, for the next five years. During a briefing with Caribbean and other diplomats and staff at the Permanent Council of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), Dr Etienne said advancing universal health coverage and universal access to health in the region will be the top priority during that period. “Our vision for the future of our organisation and our region is to see all peoples of the Americas, particularly the under-served, achieving the highest attainable standard of health and well-being that allows them to enjoy dignified and productive lives. I believe that you share this same vision,” Dr Etienne told her audience.

Arts Illustrate Importance of Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

The Carter Center
Eye of the Eagle
The Ugandan Music, Dance, and Drama Festival is an annual competition sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Sports. This year, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health's Trachoma Elimination Program and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, The ministry of Education and Sport selected water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as the competition's theme. Of the 44 schools that reached the finals, nine were from trachoma endemic areas where The Carter Center is coordinating partner for trachoma-focused surgery and health education activities in The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative.

When water causes diseases and deaths

Henrylito D. Tacio
BusinessMirror (Philippines)
‘Water is life,” the old proverb insists. Not in the Philippines, recent studies have shown. “Heavy inorganic pollutants have made water increasingly a threat to life” here, according to a report released by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank some years back. . . “At any given time, an estimated one-half of people in developing countries are suffering from diseases caused either directly by infection through the consumption of contaminated water or food, or indirectly by disease-carrying organisms such as mosquitoes, that breed in water,” the United Nations said in a press statement. “These diseases include diarrhea, schistosomiasis, dengue fever, infection by intestinal worms, malaria, river blindness and trachoma.”


Making diagnostic tests for tropical diseases

Barrie Rooney
Transmitted by the bite of the bloodsucking tsetse fly, sleeping sickness can be a slow killer; taking up to two years to produce the full neurological symptoms, coma and inevitable death. Everyone in the village must be screened because non-symptomatic carriers act as reservoirs. To make screening more accessible to remote populations, recent efforts have focused on simplifying and reducing the cost of point-of-care (POC) diagnostic tests.

Loa loa: More Than Meets the Eye?

Charles Whittaker et al.
Trends in Parasitology
María-Gloria Basáñez and her Helminth Ecology Research Group at Imperial College London work collaboratively on developing mathematical models for human and zoonotic helminthiases and other vector-borne NTDs. In this interview, the authors shared with Trends in Parasitology why loiasis may be more than meets the eye and how modelling can best be leveraged to help control human filarial infections.

Changing demographics of visceral leishmaniasis in northeast Brazil: Lessons for the future

Iraci Duarte Lima et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This is a retrospective study of human [visceral leishmaniasis, or] VL in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, for the period of 1990–2014 that looks at factors associated with the changing demographics in the region, including environmental and socioeconomic determinants of disease.

Insectary opens at University of Calgary to study leishmaniasis

Alyssa Julie
Global News (Canada)
The University of Calgary is breaking new ground in the fight against Leishmaniasis. Researchers at the university in Calgary have opened a high-containment insectary to study the disease. “The field has kind of realized that if we don’t study the disease in the context of this natural physiological sandfly transition, we’re missing a lot of the pieces,” said Professor Nathan Peters.

Leprosy germ turning drug resistant in India: WHO study

Express News Service
New Indian Express
A World Health Organization survey of drug-resistant leprosy has detected 8 percent of samples tested in India resistant to rifampicin, a drug used to treat the infection leading to concerns that the country could fail to its target of completely eradicating the disease by 2020.

World leaders urged to 'unite and fight' malaria

Anne Gulland
The Telegraph (UK)
The makers of Wallace and Gromit have joined the fight against malaria, one of Africa's biggest killers, as experts warn that a lack of money and declining political interest are hampering efforts to wipe out the disease. Aardman Animations have made a short film, voiced by actor Hugh Laurie, showing that despite the enormous progress that has been made to fight the disease half the world’s population is still at risk. Called Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live, the film shows malaria's long history but how the chance to eradicate it is within reach.

How One Child’s Sickle Cell Mutation Helped Protect the World From Malaria

Carl Zimmer
New York Times
The genetic mutation arose 7,300 years ago in just one person in West Africa. Today, over 250 generations later, the sickle cell mutation has been inherited by millions of people.

Gene knockout using new CRISPR tool makes mosquitoes highly resistant to malaria parasite

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Health
Medical Xpress
Deleting a single gene from mosquitoes can make them highly resistant to the malaria parasite and thus much less likely to transmit the parasite to humans, according to a new paper from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Malaria Research Institute. "Our study shows that we can use this new CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to render mosquitoes malaria-resistant by removing a so-called host factor gene," says study senior author George Dimopoulos, "This gives us a good technological platform for developing advanced malaria-control strategies, based on genetically modified mosquitoes unable to transmit the disease, and for studying the biology of malaria parasites in their mosquito hosts."

Where Zika Came From

Peter Martell
Huffington Post
Scientists developed an 118-foot tower way back in 1947 to first identify a virus that, in 2015, became a global health emergency due to its ability to cause brain-related birth defects. They named the virus Zika, after the 30-acre forest in southern Uganda. The virus did not originate in Uganda, but was only identified there. The virus that caused concern in the Americas is believed to have migrated from a strain from Southeast Asia, moving via an infected traveler, or on boats with mosquitoes carrying the virus.

How will we know when polio is dead?

Vaccines Today
Today, there is growing optimism that polio will become the second human disease in history to be consigned to history thanks to vaccination. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, launched in 1998, has been a stunning success. While its initial goal of wiping out the disease before the dawn of the 21st century was not reached, it has dramatically cut the number of cases of the disease. The last mile of this marathon effort has proven the toughest, with the virus holding out in hard-to-reach areas such as the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But thanks to sustained global commitment, and breath-taking levels of bravery and sacrifice from local leaders and health workers, the end is near.

Apply Today: 2018 ASTMH Annual Meeting Travel Awards

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Awardees will receive complimentary meeting registration, round-trip, coach airfare and stipend to offset travel costs. The 67th Annual Meeting will be held October 28- November 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Upcoming Events

54th Annual Scientific Conference of the MSPTM
March 14-15,  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine
Topics covered: Malaria, Veterinary Parasitology, Vector Biology & Control, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dengue, Emerging Zoonoses, Medical & Forensic Entomology, Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, General Topics

Improving Women’s Health: HIV, Contraception, Cervical Cancer and Schistosomiasis
March 15,  New York, NY
The New York Academy of Sciences
The symposium will focus on three key areas of intersection between HIV and broader sexual and reproductive health and rights; cervical cancer, hormonal contraception, and female genital schistosomiasis.  In all three areas, recent scientific advances raise the possibility of enhancing women’s health and wellbeing through closer collaboration and engagement between women, their health care providers and health programmers, and policy makers. Furthermore, lessons learned from AIDS activism and advocacy, in terms of demand creation and the right to health, can strengthen the broader community response.

World Water Day
March 22
United Nations
This year’s theme explores how to use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century. Environmental damage, together with climate change, motivates water-related crises around the world. This year, World Water Day looks to investigate nature-based solutions and innovations on "grey" and "green" infrastructure for a sutainable future.

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.

First Annual Awareness for Onchocerciasis 5K Run/Walk
April 22, Washington, District of Columbia
International Eye Foundation
Get ready to run! Come out to our first annual Awareness for Onchocerciasis (River Blindness) 5K Run/Walk on April 22nd at Anacostia Park, Washington DC.

The 28th Molecular Parasitology & Vector Biology Symposium
April 26,  Athens, Georgia
Center for Tropical & Emerging Diseases
The Molecular Parasitology/Vector Biology Symposium includes talks from graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and leading researchers and concludes with a keynote address by an internationally acclaimed investigator in the field of parasitology or vector biology. Poster sessions and a full lunch are also on the schedule for this free event held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, GA.

8th International Conference of the International Lymphoedema Framework
June 6-9, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The principal topics for the conference will include: clinical diagnosis and assessment, self-management, epidemiology and pathophysiology, lymphoedema management, oncology rehab, national guidelines, outcome measures, and pediatric and primary lymphedema.

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

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. 

Travel Awards from ASTMH are available for qualified students, early career investigators, and scientists actively working in the field. More information can be found here.

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.