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Malawi Officially 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.

Courtesy of University of Ruhuna


Channa Yahathugoda demonstrates the leg-washing protocol for participants in the LEDoxy clinical trial in Sri Lanka.




Lymphatic filariasis

Weekly epidemiological record: Global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis: progress report, 2019

World Health Organization
In summary, continued progress was made in 2019, with 3 new countries meeting the criteria for elimination as a public health problem, 24.5 million fewer people requiring MDA in the 94 IUs that passed TAS1, extension of the benefits of IDA MDA to 36.8 million more people, 4 new countries extending MDA to all endemic IUs, better reporting of MMDP and new global estimates clearly showing a significant decrease in the number of infected people.

Lymphatic Filariasis Eliminated in Malawi

Mectizan Donation Program
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in this week’s WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record that Malawi has been validated to have eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.

Sri Lanka Site Completes Treatment Milestone in LEDoxy Study

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
On Saturday, October 10, USAID and staff from the Neglected Tropical Disease Support Center (NTD-SC) at the Task Force for Global Health (TFGH) had a virtual end-of-study celebration Zoom call with the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka, to commemorate their completion of treatment and follow up of their patients in the LEDoxy study. This multicentre study aims to evaluate the usefulness of additional doxycycline treatment in the clinical management of moderate lymphedema, comparing it against the standard-of-care (limb hygiene) alone.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way: Jharkhand offers cure in a bowl

World Health Organization
Here’s a story from the state of Jharkhand to demonstrate how collaborative efforts of frontline health workers working tirelessly in eliminating lymphatic filariasis (LF), neglected tropical disease (NTD), found a simple and practical solution for a mass drug administration (MDA) campaign in times of COVID-19.

Defining a prevalence level to describe the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) transmission . . .

Benjamin S. Collyer, Michael A. Irvine, T. Deidre Hollingsworth, Mark Bradley, Roy M. Anderson
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In our study, we simulate the disease transmission in a synthetic population, both during a mass drug administration program and after it is stopped, to statistically evaluate the effectiveness of the current guidelines. We focus on the ability of prevalence measurement post-MDA cessation to predict bounce-back or elimination by estimating the predictive value of antigenemia and filaremia surveys.

Perception of social stigma among patients attending a filariasis morbidity control clinic in South India

Parthasarathi Ramanathan, Ram Prabhakar, Velmurugan Anbu Ananthan
International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health
The psychological and social stigma associated with lymphatic filariasis can adversely affect productivity and quality of life. This study was carried out to assess the perception of social stigma among patients with lymphatic filariasis. . . . 87% of this study subjects had perceived the social stigma towards lymphatic filariasis. Hence, apart from prevention and treatment measures for filariasis, importance has to be given in context of reducing social stigma towards the disease.


Merck Donates $500,000 to Support River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Efforts

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and the MECTIZAN® Donation Program (MDP), announced today a $500,000 cash donation to support non-governmental organization (NGO) partners working to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) and lymphatic filariasis (LF). The funds are being provided by Merck and will be administered through an application process managed by the MDP, a public-private partnership that oversees elimination efforts of these two diseases. This funding will be offered in the form of grants to support the implementation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) recommended precautionary measures to decrease the risk of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 during mass drug administration (MDA).

Point prevalence mapping reveals hotspot for onchocerciasis transmission in the Ndikinimeki Health District

René Afor Aza’ah et al.
Parasites & Vectors
A cluster-based cross-sectional survey was carried out in the Ndikinimeki Health District and all volunteers aged ≥ 5 years were (i) interviewed on their compliance to ivermectin over the past five years and (ii) underwent clinical (nodule palpation and visual search for onchocercal lesions) and parasitological examinations (skin snip) for onchocerciasis. This study has revealed that the Ndikinimeki Health District is hypo-endemic for onchocerciasis after about two decades of preventive chemotherapy. However, transmission is ongoing, with potential hotspots in the Kiboum 1 and Kiboum 2 communities, which are known as first-line communities (closest to the breeding sites of the vector). Alternative or complementary strategies to annual ivermectin appear compulsory to accelerate the momentum towards onchocerciasis elimination.

OV16 Seroprevalence among Persons with Epilepsy in Onchocerciasis Endemic Regions: A Multi-Country Study

Alfred Dusabimana et al.
Our study suggests that, in onchocerciasis-endemic regions, epilepsy in young people is often associated with onchocerciasis, while epilepsy in older persons seems unrelated to O. volvulus exposure.

Individual risk of post-ivermectin serious adverse events in subjects infected with Loa loa

Cédric B. Chesnais et al.
EClinical Medicine
By enabling the prediction of post-ivermectin SAE risk in communities with known distribution of L loa MFDs, our results can guide decisions on the choice of ivermectin-based treatment strategies. They also predict that 37 SAEs were prevented in 2015 by using a Test-and-Treat strategy in the Okola District of Cameroon.


Prospective, observational study to assess the performance of CAA measurement as a diagnostic tool for the detection of ...

Yabo Josiane Honkpehedji et al.
BMC Infectious Diseases
The aim is to evaluate the accuracy of circulating anodic antigen (CAA) detection for diagnosis of Schistosoma haematobium infections in pregnant women and to validate CAA as an endpoint measure for anti-Schistosoma drug efficacy. The study will also investigate Schistosoma infections in infants.

Schistosomiasis in Nigeria: Gleaning from the past to improve current efforts towards control

Oyetunde Timothy Oyeyemi, Wanderde Jesus Jeremias, Rafaella Fortini Queiroz Grenfell
One Health
Mass drug administration (MDA) has helped to reduce morbidity but it is not adequate to abate transmission in many areas of the country. The integration of other aspects of control will provide a more sustainable result. This review attempted to discuss schistosomiasis transmission patterns in Nigeria in different eras. We identified some pitfalls in efforts towards the control of schistosomiasis in Nigeria.

Geographical survey of the intermediate host of Schistosoma japonicum: Toward precise management of Oncomelania hupensis

Xiaowei Shan, Si Liu, Jianbing Liu, Hong Zhu, Ying Xiao, Yanyan Chen
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
... The control and elimination of its intermediate snail host, Oncomelania hupensis, is crucial for blocking schistosomiasis transmissions in China. . . In this study, we reviewed local chronicles and annual records and extensively surveyed Hubei Province to collect information on the historical, current, and suspected habitats of O. hupensis. Subsequently, we used various geospatial tools (ArcGIS and Google Earth) to visualize the spatial distributions of habitats. Our study provides valuable data that will facilitate more effective habitat management of this intermediate host species and contribute to more precise management of schistosomiasis in China.

Anthelminthic Activity of Assassin Bug Venom against the Blood Fluke Schistosoma mansoni

Miray Tonk, Andreas Vilcinskas, Christoph G. Grevelding, and Simone Haeberlein
The observed anthelminthic activity and absence of hemolytic side effects suggest that the components of R. iracundus venom should be investigated in more detail as potential antischistosomal leads.

Establishment of a fluorescence staining method for Schistosoma japonicum miracidia

Yuanxi Shen, Rongyi Ji, Man Yang, Jiaojiao Lin, Hairong Wang, Chuangang Zhu & Qinkun Xu
Scientific Reports
In this study, recombinant streptococcal protein G-enhanced green fluorescent protein (rSPG-EGFP) was expressed, purified, and used as a fluorescence staining reagent for miracidia. . . .When the fluorescence staining method was used to observe living miracidia, the miracidia were labelled by the recombinant protein, and their motility status was not affected.

Global health partners collaborate to accelerate development of a new schistosomiasis test

Global Schistosomiasis Alliance
The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund, the Nagasaki University Institute of Tropical Medicine (NUITM), and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) announced today a collaboration in partnership with Merck (Merck KGaA) to develop a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for schistosomiasis, supported by an investment of US $3.5 million from the GHIT Fund.

Climate Research May Help Reduce “Snail Fever” Worldwide

Stony Brook Matters, University of Stony Brook
Projections of temperatures and precipitation amounts in climate change scenarios may be a key component in a large research initiative with the goal to reduce schistosomiasis, also known as “snail fever,” a debilitating infection that affects some 220 million people worldwide.

Molecular Tools and Schistosomiasis Transmission Elimination

Joseph Hamburger
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Large-scale screening of snail infection prevalence by loop-mediated isothermal amplification will enable accurate determination of man-to-snail transmission, as well as the effects of biota in snail habitat on host capacity and thus on snail-to-man transmission. Next-generation sequencing will enable identification of gut content of snails and thus their feeding preferences in hot spots and in non–hot spots, as well as for identification of attractive vegetation types for attracting snails to molluscicides.

The Epidemiology of a Hidden Schistosomiasis Endemic in the Salamat Region of Chad, Africa

Timothy Visclosky, MD, Andrew Hashikawa, MD, Eric Kroner, MD
American Academy of Pediatrics Virtual 2020
Schistosomiasis is endemic in the Salmat Region of Chad, Africa. Our data highlight the need for continued local epidemiologic efforts required to treat the substantial number of children affected with schistosomiasis, which if left untreated, leads to chronic genitourinary symptoms and complications.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Prevalence, intensity and associated risk factors of soil-transmitted helminth and schistosome infections in Kenya. . .

Collins Okoyo et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
After five rounds of MDA, the program shows low prevalence of STH and schistosomiasis, however, not to a level where the infections are not a public health problem. With considerable inter-county infection prevalence heterogeneity, the program should adopt future MDA frequencies based on the county’s infection prevalence status. Further, the program should encourage interventions aimed at improving coverage among preschool age children and improving WASH practices as long-term infection control strategies.

Patterns of individual non-treatment during multiple rounds of MDA for control of soil-transmitted helminths...

William E Oswald et al.
Lancet Global Health
In this analysis we estimate the extent of and factors associated with the same individuals not being treated over multiple rounds of MDA, which we term systematic non-treatment. . . . Non-treatment was associated with specific sociodemographic groups and characteristics and did not occur at random. This finding has important implications for MDA programme effectiveness, the relevance of which will intensify as disease prevalence decreases and infections become increasingly clustered.

Performance of the Kato-Katz method and real time polymerase chain reaction for the diagnosis of soil-transmitted helminthiasis

Ladina Keller et al.
Parasites & Vectors
qPCR diagnosis showed lower reproducibility of test results compared to Kato-Katz, hence multiple samples per participant should be analysed to achieve a reliable diagnosis of STH infection. Our study confirms that cure rates are overestimated using Kato-Katz alone. Our findings emphasize that standardized and accurate molecular diagnostic tools are urgently needed for future monitoring within STH control and/or elimination programmes.


Genomics of Ocular Chlamydia trachomatis after 5 years of SAFE interventions for trachoma in Amhara, Ethiopia

Harry Pickering et al.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases
As part of the SAFE strategy in the Amhara Region, Ethiopia, the Trachoma Control Program distributed over 124 million doses of antibiotic between 2007 and 2015. Despite this, trachoma remained hyperendemic in many districts and a considerable level of Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) infection was evident. . . .We found no evidence for Ct genomic variation contributing to continued transmission of Ct after treatment, adding to evidence that azithromycin does not drive acquisition of macrolide resistance in Ct.

DjinniChip: evaluation of a novel molecular rapid diagnostic device for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis in . . .

Tamsyn R. Derrick et al.
Parasites & Vectors
DjinniChip performance is extremely promising, particularly its ability to detect low concentrations of C. trachomatis and its usability in field conditions. The DjinniChip requires further development to reduce inhibition and advance toward a closed system. DjinniChip results did not vary between local laboratory results and typical trachoma field settings, illustrating its potential for use in low-resource areas to prevent unnecessary rounds of MDA and to monitor for C. trachomatis recrudescence.

Ophthalmic nurses: meeting the need for human resources to end trachoma

Amir Bedri Kello and Caleb Mpyet
Community Eye Health Journal
Remote communities have fewer doctors but a greater need for trachoma services; ophthalmic nurses can fill the gap.


PAHO Partnership Promotes Disease Elimination in the Americas

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
The Task Force for Global Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have signed an agreement to accelerate disease elimination efforts among PAHO’s member states across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. PAHO is the Americas regional office for the World Health Organization. With The Task Force’s expertise in disease elimination and health system strengthening, this partnership focuses on the implementation of PAHO’s Elimination Initiative which seeks to eliminate several communicable diseases in the Americas by 2030.

Building country capacity to sustain NTD programs and progress: A call to action

Yao Sodahlon et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We are at a unique moment in time. Countries are motivated to increase ownership of and domestic spending for their NTD programs. They are asking for guidance. The community of donors, NGOs, and other stakeholders involved in supporting endemic countries must seize upon this moment by recognizing and acting upon the need to build country capacity to sustain NTD programs and the progress they have made over time.


Modeling Treatment Strategies to Inform Yaws Eradication

Alex Holmes et al.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
We use a model fitted to data from the Solomon Islands to predict the likelihood of elimination of transmission under different intervention schemes and levels of systematic nontreatment resulting from the intervention. Our results indicate that implementing additional treatment rounds through total community treatment is more effective than conducting additional rounds of treatment of at-risk persons through TTT.

Yaws re-emergence and bacterial drug resistance selection after mass administration of azithromycin: a genomic epidemiology

Mathew A Beale, PhD et al.
The Lancet Microbe
In this study, re-emergence of yaws cases was polyphyletic, indicating multiple epidemiological sources. However, given the genomic and epidemiological linkage of resistant cases and the rarity of resistance alleles in the general population, azithromycin resistance is likely to have evolved only once in this study, followed by onward dissemination.


Old Friends Meet a New Foe – A potential role for immune-priming parasites in mitigating COVID-19 morbidity and mortality

Tara J Cepon-Robins, Theresa E Gildner
Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health
An evolutionary perspective is required to understand the global impact and various presentations of COVID-19. We consider how coinfection with soil-transmitted helminths (common parasitic worms that coevolved with humans) may suppress inflammatory immune activity, thereby potentially reducing COVID-19 disease severity. Structural and lifestyle factors shaping coinfection patterns are also discussed.

COVID-19: Implications for People with Chagas Disease

Ezequiel José Zaidel et al.
World Heart Federation
Chagas disease (CD), a neglected parasitic infection, is of particular concern because of its potential to cause cardiac, gastrointestinal, and other complications which could increase susceptibility to COVID-19. The over one million people worldwide with chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy require special consideration because of COVID-19’s potential impact on the heart, yet the pandemic also affects treatment provision to people with acute or chronic indeterminate CD. In this document, a follow-up to the WHF-IASC Roadmap on CD, we assess the implications of coinfection with SARS-CoV-2 and Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of CD.


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FREE ONLINE COURSE: Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Optimizing One health and Global Vector Control Response to reach the 2030 NTD Roadmap goals
November 10, 2020, Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization

COR-NTD 2020
November 12-14, 2020, Virtual Meeting
The goal of the meeting is to strengthen NTD programs by addressing knowledge gaps in a coordinated way, identifying emerging research priorities and informing donor investments. The meeting brings together researchers, program implementers, and their partners and includes a wide diversity of research topics. Registration is now closed.

#TropMed20 - Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
November 15-19, 2020, Virtual Meeting
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, foundations, government, not for profit organizations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, 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 healthcare providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health

What role do partnerships play in NTDs and the roll out of the new Roadmap?
December 2, 2020, Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization

The leadership needed to stimulate the battle against NTDs
December 16, 2020, Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization