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Pfizer Re-Commits Azithromycin Donation Through 2025 & 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.


Trichiasis is the condition caused by trachoma where the eyelid becomes inverted forcing the lashes against the eye. It can be corrected with surgery but any damage already done to the lens remains.


Lymphatic filariasis

Tanzania eliminates neglected tropical diseases in 93 districts

Herieth Makwetta
The Citizen (Tanzania)
A total of 93 Districts countrywide have managed to eliminate neglected tropical diseases, hydrocele and lymphatic filariasis. According to the 2012 Tanzania National Census, Tanzania was divided into 169 districts, which means about 55 percent of districts in the country have achieved this goal.

Prospects of developing a prophylactic vaccine against human lymphatic filariasis - evaluation of protection in primates

Vishal Khatri et al.
International Journal for Parasitology
Recent reports suggest that despite several rounds of [mass drug administration, or] MDA, elimination has not been achieved and there is a need for more stringent control strategies for control of [lymphatic filariasis,or] LF. The focus of the present study was to improve the current vaccine formulation to obtain better protection in non-human primates.

National research mini conference at UW Oshkosh to focus on parasitology

Laurie Schlosser
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will serve as host this month for a parasitic research mini conference that will bring professionals from around the world. The event will introduce students, university professors, veterinarians and industry representatives to organismal and molecular techniques commonly used in filariasis parasitic disease research, said Michelle “Shelly” Michalski, parasitology professor at UW Oshkosh, who will lead the mini-conference.


2017 Annual Highlights of the Mectizan Donation Program

Mectizan Donation Program
The Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) proudly celebrated its 30th year in 2017 – a year that was marked by remarkable milestones. Togo became the first country in Africa to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF). Two states in Nigeria, Plateau and Nasarawa, eliminated LF, freeing an estimated 7 million people from the risk of becoming infected and suffering the devastating consequences of the disease. And finally, transmission of onchocerciasis is suspected to have stopped in the Metema focus in Ethiopia and the bordering focus of Garabat in Sudan thanks to successful cross-border collaboration between the two countries.


Sonographic assessment of the effect of praziquantel therapy on liver echotexture and diameters of the portal and splenic veins

Moawia Bushra Gameraddin
Radiology of Infectious Diseases
This was a prospective study involving 86 known cases of schistosomiasis; these cases were examined via gray-scale sonography in 3-month intervals for a period of 6 months. The liver, spleen, main portal vein (PV), and splenic vein (SV) were evaluated sonographically using 3.5-curvilinear transducers, according to a standard abdominal ultrasound protocol. The liver echotexture and size were significantly recovered in patients who received praziquantel therapy compared to those who did not use the drug (p-values < 0.001).

No Association between Urogenital Schistosomiasis and HIV Infection among Children in Ore Community, Southwestern Nigeria

Christopher Igbeneghu et al.
Annual Research & Review in Biology
Urine samples were collected from 438 children and examined microscopically for ova of Schistosoma haematobium. A sample of 3 ml of blood was drawn from each participant for HIV test. Antibodies to HIV were determined using Determine HIV1/2 kit, Unigold kit and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This study did not identify an association between urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV infection among children in Ore, Southwestern Nigeria. Therefore, urogenital schistosomiasis may not play a significant role in the spread of HIV infection in a locality where HIV prevalence is low.

Schistosoma mansoni Mass Drug Administration Regimens and Their Effect on Morbidity among Schoolchildren over a 5-Year Period

Anita D. Sircar et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
We compared morbidity markers between two cohorts of Kenyan schoolchildren that initially had high prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni infections. One cohort (N = 416 at year 1) received four rounds of annual [mass drug administration, or] MDA in a community-wide treatment (CWT) strategy. The other cohort (N = 386 at year 1) received school-based treatment (SBT) every other year over the 4-year period . . . The only significant difference between arms at year 5 was a lower prevalence of STH infections in the CWT group.

[VIDEO] #PMLive: Bilharzia on the rise

Watsup Africa
Despite interventions the prevalence of Bilharzia disease has continued to increase [in Uganda].

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Argument for Inclusion of Strongyloidiasis in the Australian National Notifiable Disease List

Meruyert Beknazarova et al.
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Strongyloidiasis is an infection caused by the helminth, Strongyloides stercoralis. Up to 370 million people are infected with the parasite globally, and it has remained endemic in the Indigenous Australian population for many decades. This manuscript addresses the 12 criteria required for a disease to be included in the Australian National Notifiable Disease List (NNDL) under the National Health Security Act 2007 (Commonwealth). There are six main arguments that provide compelling justification for strongyloidiasis to be made nationally notifiable and added to the Australian NNDL.

Eosinophilia in advanced HIV infection with hyperinfection syndrome: A case report

Pratima Gupta et al.
Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences
Strongyloidiasis continues to remain a neglected tropical disease, the diagnosis of which is often overlooked by clinicians and diagnosticians alike. The paucity of published literature from India further accentuates this problem. The authors hereby present a case report with the aim of elucidating this relatively underreported infection.


Pfizer recommits to eliminate blinding trachoma

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Today marks another milestone in this journey to rid the world of debilitating, but preventable, diseases and in ensuring we leave no one behind. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer – through the International Trachoma Initiative – has recommitted its pledge to eliminate the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world, trachoma, by extending its donation of the preventive drug Zithromax® (azithromycin) to all those at risk through to 2025.

Health authority says trachoma no longer public health problem in China

Xinhua Net
Trachoma, an infectious disease that can cause blindness, is no longer a public health problem in China, said an official with the National Health Commission. The prevalence of active trachoma and trachomatous trichiasis (in-turned eyelashes) among Chinese is far below WHO standards for an epidemic region, said Jiao Yahui, a medical administration official with the commission.

Joanna Lumley Is Speaking Out to End This Seriously Neglected Disease

Imogen Calderwood
Global Citizen
Actress and human rights activist Joanna Lumley is raising her voice to put an end to a hidden and neglected disease that, although many of us have never heard of it, is actually the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world. “I remember being shocked at how cheap it can be to stop trachoma in its early stages and that the condition is completely preventable altogether,” wrote Lumley, an ambassador for Sightsavers , an NGO that works against avoidable blindness.

Assessing the Long-Term Outcome of the Two Most Commonly Used Surgical Procedures to Treat Trachomatous Trichiasis in Ethiopia

Ahlam Awad Mohammed
The Amhara region in Ethiopia has a large burden of Ethiopia’s trachomatous trichiasis (TT) cases. TT cases have conjunctival scarring (TS) caused by recurrent Ct infection since childhood, which later causes eyelids to be distorted and eyelashes to scratch the cornea. TT is mainly treated through surgery. The two commonly used procedures for TT treatment are the Bilamellar Tarsal Rotation (BLTR) and the Posterior Lamellar Tarsal Rotation (PLTR) surgeries. To compare the two types of surgery, a study began in February 2018, following up from a randomized control trial (RCT) conducted four years prior on one thousand patients in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

Measuring the Immunological Response to Trachoma-Causing Bacterial Antigens in Endemic Zones in Ethiopia: A Case Study

Ahlam Awad Mohammed
Ethiopia has a higher prevalence of trachoma than any other country, with 30 percent of its population at risk for the disease. A baseline study conducted in 2016 in the Gemechis woreda (district) of West Hararge in Oromia – the largest and most populous region in Ethiopia – had shown an antibody prevalence of approximately 10 percent in 1-9 year olds using the Pgp3 lateral flow assay (LFA), and this prevalence rate was much lower than anticipated.


Recognizing neglected tropical diseases through changes in the skin

Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases
World Health Organization
This training guide explains how to identify the signs and symptoms of neglected tropical diseases of the skin through their visible characteristics. It also contains information on how to diagnose and manage common skin problems that front-line health workers may encounter. The guide is intended for use by front-line health workers without specialist knowledge of skin diseases. Pathways for more detailed investigation and/or management are described but, often, this will involve referral to a specialist service.

Ensuring no one is left behind: Urgent action required to address implementation challenges for NTD control and elimination

Alison Krentel et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Some key implementation questions frequently arise in [neglected tropical disease, or] NTD programs: sustaining the motivation of community drug distributors, appropriateness of timing of mass drug administration (MDA) activities, the coverage–compliance gap, social mobilization, human resource constraints in low- and middle-income countries, inefficient or weak health systems, multiple reporting requirements and different funding cycles from donors, and many more. While these issues continue to plague our NTD community, we have not committed the necessary levels of research funds, expertise, or priority to adequately answer these questions. Often termed “social science questions,” these questions have been relegated to a category of research that is too difficult to conduct, too time-consuming, too costly, and seemingly less important than studies of drug efficacy or of the sensitivity of diagnostic tools.

Mapping climate change impacts on tropical diseases

European Commission
An atlas developed by a [European Union, or] EU-funded project maps the risk in eastern Africa of three tropical diseases. Now used in teaching and research, it could one day support models that better predict how environmental changes might impact public health.

Prevalence of Neglected Tropical Diseases (Leishmaniasis and Lymphatic Filariasis) and Malaria Among a Migrant Labour Settlement

Sobha George et al.
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Neglected tropical diseases (visceral leismaniasis, lymphatic filariasis) and malaria are endemic in northern states of India. Kerala has become a hub of construction activities employing a large number of migrants from these endemic states. It is essential to look into the burden of these infections among migrant laborers who can act as reservoirs and are a threat to native population.

People, not statistics: Two Years Since Ebola, Good News From Guinea on NTDs

RTI International
In the two years since [the Ebola outbreak], USAID’s ENVISION project has supported the delivery of almost 30 million NTD treatments to more than 5.5 million people in Guinea — reaching people in every NTD-endemic health district. And there’s more good news. Three districts can already stop mass treatment for trachoma, an NTD that can cause permanent blindness, after impact surveys showed promising results. Given this impressive reach and determination, and despite setbacks from Ebola, Guinea has an ambitious goal to eliminate three NTDs — lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, and trachoma — in the near future.

How Switzerland Is Leading the Fight Against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Thomas Gass
Global Citizen
The right to health is not a luxury — it is a human right. Yet, a third of the people affected with [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs lack access to treatment, because the medicines that exist do not reach them, or because there is simply no effective medicine for the particular disease. Switzerland is not ready to accept this unbearable situation. Improving access to medical products for all is therefore a priority for us. To overcome the market failure that exists in research and development of medical products against NTDs, the combination of public and private resources to stimulate R&D of new medicines, diagnostic tests, and insecticides against NTDs has been a great success.

An Integrated Approach to Control Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis, Schistosomiasis, Intestinal Protozoa Infection, and Diarrhea

Giovanna Raso et al.
The aim of this study was to assess and quantify the effect of an integrated control package that consists of preventive chemotherapy, community-led total sanitation, and health education on soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, intestinal protozoa infection, and diarrhea in rural Côte d’Ivoire.


In situ T regulatory cells and Th17 cytokines in paired samples of leprosy type 1 and type 2 reactions

Maurício Barcelos Costa et al.
One of the major complications in the clinical management of leprosy patients is the development of acute immune inflammatory episodes, known as leprosy reactions, during the chronic course of the disease either before, during or after the specific treatment. Type 1 and type 2 reactions (T1R and T2R) are the main manifestations of leprosy reactions. The current study describes in situ expression of Treg cells and cytokines with emphasis in paired skin biopsies of T1R and T2R leprosy patients.

Mortality due to snakebite and other venomous animals in the Indian state of Bihar

Rakhi Dandona et al.
India accounts for the highest number of snakebites and related mortality globally. In this paper, we report on mortality due to bite or sting of a venomous animal from a population-based study in the Indian state of Bihar which estimated the causes of death using verbal autopsy.

This tropical disease is second only to malaria as a parasitic killer. So why haven't you heard of it?

Bill Ibelle
The deadly strain of the disease, visceral leishmaniasis, infects 300,000 people annually, causing 20,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. It is the second largest cause of parasitic death after malaria. You may wonder why you’ve never heard of such a horrid, deadly, and widespread disease. The answer is simple—it’s a tropical disease suffered primarily by the most impoverished populations in the world.

Scabies in Resource-Poor Communities in Nasarawa State, Nigeria

Uade Samuel Ugbomoiko, Samuel Adeola Oyedeji, Olarewaju Abdulkareem Babamale and Jorg Heukelbach
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Epidemiology and clinical features of scabies remain largely unknown in Nigeria’s rural communities. To fill this gap, we performed a cross-sectional study in three rural communities in north central Nigeria. A total of 500 individuals were included and examined for scabies infestation; a questionnaire was applied to collect socio-demographic and behavioral data.

Cattle may spread leptospirosis in Africa, study suggests

The bacterial infection leptospirosis is increasingly recognized as an important cause of fever in Africa. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have analyzed the major risk factors for contracting leptospirosis and discovered that rice and cattle farming are associated with acute infection. "Our findings suggest that control of Leptospira infection in livestock could play a role in preventing human leptospirosis in Africa," the researchers say.

Development of vaccines from AIDS to Zika, using a novel 'plug and play' viral platform

American Society for Microbiology
Medical Xpress
Researchers from GeoVax have developed a flexible "Plug and Play" technology platform that delivers single-dose vaccines that fully protect against emerging infectious diseases such as Zika, Lassa fever, and Ebola. "Unlike other vaccine technologies currently available, which sacrifice confidence in success for speed or vice-versa, the GeoVax technology offers a true "Plug and Play" platform approach that is well suited for use against a wide range of biological threats and amenable to rapid, large-scale production," said Rahul Basu, scientist at GeoVax and lead author on the study.

Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets for Malaria Control in Myanmar and Nigeria: Lessons From the Past, Tools for the Future

Michael B. Macdonald
Global Health: Science and Practice
While having saved many lives over the past decade, continued dependence on mass distribution of free long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) is not sufficient and may not be sustainable. Programs must be enabled with flexible policy and technical options to place LLINs within a larger context of multisectoral partnerships and integrated vector management, avoiding what happened in the DDT era, where there was overreliance implementing a uniform solution to a complex problem.

WHO certifies Paraguay malaria-free

Leticia Linn and Christian Lindmeier
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) today certified Paraguay as having eliminated malaria, the first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973. “It gives me great pleasure today to certify that Paraguay is officially free of malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, in a recorded statement. “Success stories like Paraguay’s show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries.”

Elimination or more accurate estimation? Investigation of trends in malaria diagnoses in the Ouest Department of Haiti 2008-2017

Thomas A. Weppelmann et al.
While the decline in malaria indicators between 2010 and 2015 has been cited as evidence of progress towards elimination, these reports derived estimates of the malaria burden in Haiti using two different diagnostic tests. Thus, comparison of these periods in the context of malaria elimination should be made with caution.

Bill And Melinda Gates Start A Nonprofit Biotech In Boston

Matthew Harper
Over the past year or so, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has built what is essentially a nonprofit biotechnology company in Boston, with a $100 million budget and a staff targeted to grow to as many as 100 people. “What keeps me awake is we have all this capital, we have all this opportunity and we better get something done,” says Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the chief executive of the foundation. “We better do some good in the world, or I will not feel good about leading in the Gates Foundation.”

Nipah virus contained, last two positive cases have recovered: Kerala Health Min

The News Minute
The deadly Nipah virus that struck Kozhikode district in Kerala last month and claimed 16 lives in the state has been finally contained and the last of the two positive cases have fully recovered, said Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja on Sunday.

Upcoming Events

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

World Ophthamology Congress 2018
June 16-19, Barcelona, Spain
The 2018 World Ophthalmology Congress® of the International Council of Ophthalmology will be hosted by the Spanish Society of Ophthalmology (SEO) and co-hosted by the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) and Spanish Society of Implant-Refractive Ocular Surgery (SECOIR). It will be held June 16-19 in Barcelona, Spain.

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.

MSF Scientific Days - South Asia 2018
July 16,  New Delhi, India
MSF Scientific Days - South Asia is a conference to showcase research, innovation, and experiences from treatment and humanitarian programmes across the region. The conference provides a platform for stakeholders – health groups, vulnerable communities and treatment providers - to share knowledge and help improve quality of care provided to patients & populations.

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.

2018 ROP Africa Symposium
September 3-4,  Cape Town, South Africa
The International Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Council and The Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology at The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town are proud to announce the 2018 ROP Africa Symposium.

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.

World Sight Day
October 11, 2018
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. This year, the "Call to Action" for World Sight Day is "Eye Care Everywhere."

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.