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ESPEN Receives $1 Million Grant from OPEC Fund for International Development & 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.


Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, with Suleiman J Al-Herbish, OFID Director-General


Lymphatic filariasis

Centre to roll out triple-drug therapy to eliminate filaria

Umesh Isalkarl
The Times of India
The Union government has approved the roll-out of the WHO-recommended new triple-drug therapy (TDT) in four select districts, including one in Maharashtra, to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) from the country. Veteran epidemiologist Kapa D Ramaiah said, “Global and Indian clinical trials have shown that a single dose of triple-drug therapy cleared more than 95% microfilaria load in infected people. With such an excellent effect, annual mass TDT can eliminate LF from endemic communities in two to three years. This will enable India to effectively meet the target set by WHO to eliminate LF by 2020.”

Lymphatic filariasis elimination programme in Assam, India, needs change in mass drug administration strategy

Abdul Mabood Khan
Indian Journal of Medical Research
Findings indicated that [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF was mostly confined amongst tea garden workers of Assam. . . This situation is unlike of the LF hotspot areas of other States of India where a few places report such a situation and can be dealt with focal MDA. Districts such as Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Biswanath, Golaghat and Sonitpur are the main tea cultivating districts of upper Assam and possess plenty of tea gardens which deploy more than 10 lakhs of tea garden workers in tea industry. Instead of geographically defining focus of LF hotspot in Assam, we intend to consider the high-risk tea garden population as foci irrespective to their distribution in the State.


In Southern Nigeria Loa loa Blood Microfilaria Density is Very Low: Results of a Survey Using the New LoaScope Technology

Emmanuel Emukah et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
We examined 10,605 residents using the LoaScope, a cell phone–based imaging device for rapidly determining the microfilaria (mf) density of L. loa infections. The mean Loa loa village mf prevalence was 6.3% (range 0–29%) and the mean individual mf count among positives was 326 mf/mL. These findings indicate that ivermectin [mass drug administration, or] MDA can be delivered in this area with extremely low risk of Loa loa–related central nervous system adverse events (CNS-AEs). We also concluded that in Nigeria the RAPLOA survey methodology is not predictive of ≥ 2% prevalence of very high-density L. loa microfilaremia.


Determinants of Schistosoma mansoni in Sanja health center, north West Ethiopia

Asrat Atsedeweyn Andargie and Agmas Sisay Abera
BMC Public Health
In Ethiopia, Schistosoma mansoni is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and identify the determinant factors of Schistosoma mansoni, in terms of some socio-demographic variables and risk factors.

Complete mitochondrial and rDNA complex sequences of important vector species of Biomphalaria

Si-Ming Zhang et al.
Nature Scientific Reports
Using high throughput Illumina sequencing technology, we determined complete sequences for the mitochondrial genome (mitogenome) and nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) complex for three African freshwater snail taxa within the genus Biomphalaria, B. pfeifferi, B. sudanica and B. choanomphala, and for two laboratory strains of B. glabrata originating from the Neotropics. Biomphalaria snails are obligate vectors of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni, a major etiologic agent of human intestinal schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis Induces Persistent DNA Methylation and Tuberculosis-Specific Immune Changes

Andrew R. DiNardo et al.
The Journal of Immunology
In Schistosoma haematobium–infected individuals, these DNA methylation and immune phenotypic changes persisted at least 6 mo after successful deworming. This work demonstrates that helminth infection induces DNA methylation and immune perturbations that inhibit TB-specific immune control and that the duration of these changes are helminth specific.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Risk factors and socio-demographic determinants of intestinal helminthiasis among children in Ekwulobia, Southeast Nigeria

Ogechukwu B. Aribodor, Chinyere Angela Ekwunife, Olufemi S. Sammy-Wobo and Dennis N. Aribodor
Inernational Journal of Translational Medical Research & Public Health
Control of intestinal helminthiasis among pupils improves their nutritional status. This study identified the risk factors and socio-demographic determinants of intestinal helminthiasis among children in primary schools that implemented Home Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) in Anambra State, Nigeria.

DOH-6 to deworm 3M schoolchildren

Panay News (Philippines)
This year the Department of Health (DOH) targets to deworm 3,750,437 schoolchildren from kindergarten to Grade 12 in Western Visayas.On May 3, DOH gathered private schools in the city for an orientation about the program. “We assure them that our medicine is safe,” said Department of Health Region 6 Coordinator, Dr. Marie Jocelyn Te, adding that it is also similar to the medicines being provided by private doctors.

Integrated school-based health services launched in Western Visayas

Watchmen Daily Journal (Philippines)
Three government agencies in Western Visayas (WV) have agreed to collaborate and integrate their efforts to carry out various school-based health services. Dr. Renilyn R. Reyes, head of the Family Health and Nutrition Cluster of the Department of Health VI (DOH-6), said they are partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the integrated school health services. The integrated health services will cover school-based immunization, deworming, and iron and folic acid supplementation.

Empowering Girls and Women through Hookworm Prevention

Peter J. Hotez
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Adolescent and adult women are vulnerable to hookworm anemia because of their low iron reserves as a result of menstruation, low iron intake, and other factors. Compounding this problem are coinfections from malaria, which together with hookworm infections can result in profound anemia. The adverse consequences of severe hookworm anemia among women in Africa include higher maternal morbidity and mortality. But another important effect is the impact of hookworm blood loss and anemia on worker productivity.


Detection of Chlamydiaceae and Chlamydia-like organisms on the ocular surface in trachoma-endemic region

Ehsan Ghasemian et al.
Nature Scientific Reports
Recent investigations revealed the existence of additional families within the phylum Chlamydiae, also termed Chlamydia-like organisms (CLOs). In this study, the frequency of Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) and CLOs was examined in the eyes of healthy Sudanese (control) participants and those with trachoma (case).

WASH Reduces Trachoma

Warm Heart of Africa News
Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) stakeholders in Nsanje District have been asked to put in place measures that will ensure sustainability of improved sanitation as one way of eliminating Trachoma disease. “After [Blantyre Institute for Community Opthamology, or] BICO did well in mass drug administration and surgeries, we came in to demonstrate the importance of hygiene and use of safe water to make sure that achievements realized during mass drug administration and surgeries should remain as low as they are,” said African Medical Research and Education Foundation (AMREF) Program Manager, Young Samanyika.

Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic Use in Sub-Saharan Africa, Risk Versus Reward

Saskia v. Popescu
Contagion Live
On one hand, a closely monitored program could provide reduced mortality to millions of children; however, it could also result in irreversible antimicrobial resistance in regions that already struggle to access antibiotics. Dr. Keenan was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had regarding their research. . . Dr. Keenan: We do not have any reports of antibiotic-resistant infections from the local health clinics. . . We also know from trachoma programs that once the antibiotic distributions are stopped (ie, the antibiotic selection pressure removed), the resistance decreases.

Disease detectives hunt for nasty eye infection in Camoooweal

Lydia Lynch
The North West Star
A taskforce of health professionals arrived in Camooweal this week to hunt for a dangerous eye disease found in some remote Indigenous communities. In 2008 the rate of blindness among Indigenous Australians was six times worse than non-Indigenous Australians. That ratio has now halved.


ESPEN receives 1 million USD grant from OFID

Maria Rebollo Polo
World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti signed an agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Cooperation (OFID) which will provide US$1-million to ESPEN to support the control and elimination of five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) amenable to preventive chemotherapy. "I am very grateful to OFID for this generous support, and welcome them into our growing community of partners . . . I look forward to working together to eliminate these diseases to build a healthier, more productive Africa," said Dr Moeti.

Environmental and socioeconomic drivers in infectious disease

Maria Cristina Schneider and Gustavo Machado
The Lancet Planetary Health
To respond to the current challenges that the world is facing, the integrated vision that human beings, animals, and the environment are linked has never been so important. Understanding these links is necessary to better recommend strategies to predict, prevent, respond to, and mitigate the challenges, taking into account an environmental and socioeconomic background that might not change in a short period of time, but which could worsen if we do not take action.

[PODCAST] Building Partnerships in Kenya

The END Fund
In 2018, Kenya is set to complete its fifth round of deworming for school-age children, pilot a new drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis (LF) that will accelerate the end of the disease, and provide surgeries for men with debilitating hydroceles. With all of these impressive gains towards ending NTDs, this episode focuses on the story Dr. Sultani Matendcharo, the head of the NTD unit at the Kenyan Ministry of Health.

Look A Little Closer: Targeted Philanthropy Tackles Neglected Tropical Diseases In Africa

Susan Gitau
There is an alternative to looking away. Improving the primary health system in low income countries by tackling the treatment and health of the population rather than the individual offers a highly effective, low-cost path out of the cycle of poverty and disease. Having a systematic focus on Africa’s high infectious disease burden can help free the continent’s peoples from poverty, so they can fully pursue their own prosperity.


Money for leprosy: Trump administration reverses budget cuts that jeopardized clinics

Ken Alltucker
AZ Central
The Trump administration has reversed cuts that jeopardized operations of all but a handful of leprosy clinics nationwide, restoring funding to clinics in Arizona and six other states for Americans afflicted with the centuries-old disease. The federal agency that oversees the leprosy program had paid for only six of 17 regional clinics this year. A total of 11 clinics in Arizona and other states were in jeopardy of closing as a result of the federal budget cuts. Now, federal Health Resources and Services Administration officials said Congress has authorized enough funding for an additional eight clinics.

Red squirrels 'may have introduced' leprosy to Britain

BBC News
Red squirrels may have brought leprosy to Britain more than 1,000 years ago, scientists have said. Swiss researchers said DNA taken from a fifth-century victim of the disease in Essex revealed the same strain of leprosy carried by red squirrels today.

New strains of leishmaniasis may hit elimination plans

Smriti Mallapaty
Strains of the visceral leishmaniasis parasite discovered in the central-eastern hills of Nepal have a different genetic and metabolic profile from the dominant population in the region, which could impact on the elimination of the disease, a study finds. “We wanted to warn the community about the new strains as they could have implications for diagnosis and treatment,” says Jean-Claude Dujardin, a biologist at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, University of Antwerp, and lead author of the paper.

New insights into leishmaniasis in the immunosuppressed

Hannah Akuffo et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Immunosuppression is associated with leishmaniasis. It is more frequently described in association with visceral leishmaniasis (VL) as it is one of the consequences of the disease, especially in the latter stages.

[VIDEO] Secrets of the Spitting Cobra

Natural History Museum (UK)
A team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are experts at collecting snake venom. But spitting cobras are a double threat. Venom has a complex evolutionary history and the reason some cobras evolved the ability to spit theirs is not entirely clear. Watch the video to discover the secrets of spitting cobras and their toxic defences.

Melarsoprol Resistance in African Trypanosomiasis

Alan H. Fairlamb and David Horn
Trends in Parasitology
Arsenical monotherapies were previously very successful for treating human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). Melarsoprol resistance emerged as early as the 1970s and was widespread by the late 1990s. The current goal of elimination of HAT as a public health problem by 2020 may be undermined by the emergence and spread of resistance to current or new drugs. Insights into potential resistance mechanisms for current and new drugs will facilitate predictions of the likelihood of resistance and will also facilitate rational approaches to minimizing, monitoring, and tackling the future emergence of resistance.

A holistic approach for mycetoma management

Mycetoma, a neglected tropical disease, can cause severe disfigurement and disability if not treated early. A holistic, community-based approach to detection and case management is effective at boosting disease prognoses, researchers now report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. In this new work, Ahmed Fahal, of the University of Khartoum, Sudan, and colleagues at the Myectoma Research Centre (MRC) adopted a holistic approach to decentralize patient care, improve disease awareness and advocacy, and provide free treatment at the village level.

Dengue Patterns Provide Predictions for Chikungunya, Zika in Mexico

Seth Augenstein
Laboratory Equipment
Dengue fever was originally reported in the Americas as early as the 1600s, brought by colonialism and the winds of war and trade. Ever since, it has appeared intermittently in the warmer climate of the Western Hemisphere, carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Two other diseases have emerged in the Americas since 2013: the chinkungunya and Zika viruses, both of which are carried by the same parasite. Now an Emory University team has found that surveillance of dengue outbreaks can better predict where the new pathogens are going to spread, according to a new study.

Bone Marrow Is a Major Parasite Reservoir in Plasmodium vivax Infection

Nicanor Obaldia III et al.
Studies of nonhuman primates and malaria patients revealed enrichment of developing sexual stages (gametocytes) and mature replicative stages (schizonts) in the bone marrow and liver, relative to those present in peripheral blood. Identification of the bone marrow as a major Plasmodium vivax tissue reservoir has important implications for parasite diagnosis and treatment.

This small island paradise is showing Africa how to beat malaria

Tim McDonnell
São Tomé and Príncipe is best known for stunning beaches, Galapagos-caliber birdwatching and historic coffee plantations. But in recent years, the maritime nation has acquired a new reputation as one of Africa’s most successful countries in fighting malaria, a disease that kills more than 400,000 people across the continent every year. According to the World Health Organization: "Since 2014, the nation of São Tomé and Principe has had zero malaria deaths, making it the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa to maintain that achievement for several consecutive years."

Reducing tapeworm infection could improve academic performance, reduce poverty

Rob Jordan
Standford Medicine News Center
A Stanford-led study in China has revealed for the first time high levels of a potentially fatal tapeworm infection among school-age children. The researchers suggest solutions that could reduce infections in this sensitive age range and possibly improve education outcomes and reduce poverty. “This disease invades the brain,” said John Openshaw, MD, the study’s lead author and an infectious disease instructor at the School of Medicine. “Children who are affected during formative school years risk cognitive deficits which could enforce a cycle of poverty.”

Gender and NCDs: Benign neglect in the face of a gaping window of opportunity

Kent Buse and Sarah Hawkes
PLOS Blogs
In September the United Nations will host a High-level Meeting on [non-communicable diseases, or] NCDs. Dr Tedros, the head of WHO, has invested considerable political capital in the event, among other things by launching a high-level independent Commission to make recommendations to inform the negotiations on the meeting’s Political Declaration. Expectations are understandably high. Yet against this backdrop of cautious optimism, one issue must give cause for concern – the deafening silence on the issue of gender in the discussion.

Upcoming Events

48th National Immunization Conference
May 15-17, Atlanta, Georgia
The Task Force for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the CDC Foundation 
The NIC brings together more than 1,500 local, state, federal, and private-sector immunization stakeholders and partners to explore science, policy, education, and planning issues related to immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases. The conference also offers participants an opportunity to learn innovative strategies for developing programs and policies, and advancing science to promote immunization among all ages today for a healthy tomorrow.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Implementation Research: Infectious Diseases of Poverty
May 17, Online (Worldwide)
World Health Organization TDR 
This course is a step-by-step online training for public health researchers and decision-makers, disease control programme managers, academics and others that focuses on how to design and demonstrate robust IR projects to improve control of infectious diseases of poverty and generate better health outcomes. Registration is now open. The first course will be made available on May 17, 2018.

MSF Scientific Days 2018
May 24-25, London, UK
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)
The MSF Scientific Days share the knowledge of what works in humanitarian medical programming. The aim is to help improve the quality of care provided to patients and populations by sharing research conducted in our field programmes.

Social Network Interventions to Improve Targeting for Neglected Tropical Diseases
May 29, London, UK
Imperial College London 
In this talk, Dr. Goylette Chami will present some results from an ongoing study tracking ~25,000 people during routine mass drug administration in rural villages bordering Lake Victoria in Uganda. Analysing en masse distribution of preventive chemotherapies as a diffusion process on village social networks reveals information for the seeding and targeting of global health interventions that is in contrast to conventional medical approaches.

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.

Innovations for Universal Health Coverage
June 11-12, Bengaluru, India
The aim of the Innovation for UHC Collaboration is to find ways to leverage the transformational potential of these innovations and accelerate progress towards achieving UHC in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) in Asia and Africa. It is led by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a global centre of excellence in public health, Amref Health Africa (Amref), the leading health development NGO in Africa and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the leading centre in multi-disciplinary approaches to development.

Update Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Traveler's Health
June 12-13, New Orleans, Louisiana
American Society for Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
ASTMH has developed this course as an update in the essential components of tropical medicine and traveller's health. This two day meeting is designed for physicians and for all other health care providers working in tropical medicine or traveler's health. 

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

Snakebite: From Science to Society
June 21-22, Leiden, the Netherlands
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Naturalis organises a 2-day international conference ‘Snakebite : from science to society’ to draw attention to a devastating, neglected tropical disease and to ignite international action on snakebite prevention and treatment. By bringing together science, government, industry and societal & humanitarian aid organisations, we want to take the first steps in developing solutions for the issues concerning snakebites in the tropics.

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.

ITI Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting
June 26-28, Atlanta, Georgia
International Trachoma Initiative's Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting is an independent body of internationally recognized experts that meets twice annually to review country applications for donations of Zithromax®. 

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.

Science in the City: Neglected Tropical Diseases
July 10,  Seattle, Washington
Julie Jacobson, Senior Program Officer, Global Health with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will discuss controlling neglected tropical diseases. This free even is part of the Pacific Science Center's Global Health and Development lecture series, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WGHA.

5th International Conference on Neglected Tropical & Infectious Diseases
August 29-30,  Boston, Massachussetts
Theme: Uniting all to overcome and fight against NTD's & infectious diseases for improved health protection.

First International Podoconiosis Conference
September 23, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The theme for this is ‘Research to Implementation: A Call for Global Action’. With this invitation to register, we are also calling for abstracts from all those involved in podoconiosis research and implementation. In order to stimulate high levels of participation, the conference programme will include two sessions of research presentations, one of implementation presentations, and a poster display area. Abstracts for each of these will be selected by competitive process, and prizes will be awarded for the best research and the best implementation presentations. Travel awards will be available for a limited number of selected abstracts.

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.

10th Euro-Global Conference on Infectious Diseases
September 27-29, Rome, Italy
Theme: Advancing in science and improving care to prevent infectious diseases.

International Conference on Migration Health
October 1-3, Rome, Italy
Hosted by the international Society of Travel Medicine.

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. 

7th Global Scabies Control Meeting
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
We are pleased to announce the date for the 7th Global Scabies Control meeting. The meeting will be held on Sunday 28th October in New Orleans, LA, USA. Please mark this in your diaries now! Further information and registration details will follow in coming months. 

1st International Caparica Congress on Leishmaniasis
October 29-31, Caparica, Portugal
This conference intends to gather researchers working in areas related to Leishmaniasis, from treatment to prevention. In fact, as leishmaniasis is slowly but constantly, increasing worldwide, this conference is addressed to show the latest research trends in this area. The idea is to push forward the battle against this persistent disease. 

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, UK
This meeting will be the fourth we have held on this topic, with previous meetings in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and like before we will bring together members of the major UK research groups who have an interest in vectors or vector-borne diseases which could be a threat to the UK; groups with wider but related areas of interest; members of key UK Government Departments and their Agencies; and representatives of European organisations with an interest in this topic. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2019, 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.