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United Kingdom Commits £20 Million for Trachoma Elimination & 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.


UK Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt has announced funding of £20 million that will be used to fight blinding trachoma


Lymphatic filariasis

Validation of ultrasound bioimaging to predict worm burden and treatment efficacy in preclinical filariasis drug screening model

Amy E Marriott et al.
Scientific Reports
We tested whether ultrasound detection of adult Brugia ‘filarial dance sign’ could be employed as a specific adult filarial biomarker to reduce and refine rodent use for in vivo filarial drug screening. After optimizing the technique for [intra-peritoneal dance sign, or] ipFDS detection in mice and gerbils, we determined, in multiple operator/operator-blinded studies that ultrasonography was 100% specific in predicting animals who were infection negative and 86% sensitive in detecting active adult B. malayi infection.

Testing Shows No Sign of Lymphatic Filariasis

The Carter Center
"Over the past two years, we have tested more than 14,000 children ages 6 and 7 throughout the two-state area of Nigeria, and not one of them was found to be infected," said Dr. Gregory Noland, epidemiologist at The Carter Center, who helped train the testing teams. "In human terms, these children will never have to worry about being disabled by lymphatic filariasis."


Applying Silicon Valley Smarts to Age-Old Diseases

Brian Rinker
California Healthline
The LoaScope was created in UC-Berkeley’s Fletcher Lab . . . the camera on the phone is positioned over a magnifying lens to capture a sample on a slide. Software can then analyze whatever is on the slide and transmit it to the cloud. Standard light microscopes aren’t really mobile, and require electricity and a trained lab tech to operate. The mobile microscope is cheap, compact and can be used by anyone familiar with mobile phones, which are increasingly common around the world, even in remote villages.

Elimination of onchocerciasis from Colombia: first proof of concept of river blindness elimination in the world

Rubén Santiago Nicholls et al.
Parasites & Vectors
In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) verified Colombia as free of onchocerciasis, becoming the first country in the world to reach such a goal. This report provides the empirical evidence of the elimination of Onchocerca volvulus transmission by Simulium exiguum (s.l.) after 12 years of 6-monthly mass drug administration of Mectizan® (ivermectin) to all the eligible residents living in this endemic area.

Impact of five annual rounds of mass drug administration with ivermectin on onchocerciasis in Sierra Leone

Joseph B Koroma et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
A significant reduction of onchocerciasis [microfilaridemia, or] MF prevalence and mean density was recorded in all 12 districts of Sierra Leone after five annual [mass drug administrations, or] MDAs with effective treatment coverage. The results suggested that the onchocerciasis elimination programme in Sierra Leone was on course to reach the objective of eliminating onchocerciasis in the country by the year 2025.


Snail-borne parasitic diseases: an update on global epidemiological distribution, transmission interruption and control methods

Xiao-Ting Lu et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
In this review the authors summarize the core roles of snails in the life cycles of the parasites they host, their clinical manifestations and disease distributions, as well as snail control methods.

Differentiating snail intermediate hosts of Schistosoma spp. using molecular approaches

Eniola Michael Abe et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
This review highlights the importance of molecular approaches in differentiating snail hosts population structure and the need to provide adequate information on snail host populations by updating snail hosts genome database for Africa, in order to equip different stakeholders with adequate information on the ecology of snail intermediate hosts and their roles in the transmission of different diseases. Prioritizing snail studies, especially snail differentiation using molecular tools will boost disease surveillance and also enhance efficient schistosomaisis control programme in Africa.

Under-fives should be priority for snail fever therapy, study finds

Catriona Kelly
Regular testing and treatment of pre-school children for snail fever - known as schistosomiasis or bilharzia - would reduce the spread of the disease, while promoting childhood health and development, experts have found. Until now, pre-school children have not been routinely tested for nor treated for the condition, as the health impact of childhood infection has not been well understood. In the first long-term study of the disease in this age group, researchers at the University of Edinburgh and collaborators in Zimbabwe monitored 1500 children aged from six months to five years old over the course of a year.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Soil-transmitted helminth infections and intestinal and systemic inflammation in schoolchildren

Brechje de Gier et al.
Acta Tropica
The objective of this study was to assess whether soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections are associated with systemic and local intestinal inflammation in school-age children. In two studies in schoolchildren in Cuba (N = 1389) and in Cambodia (N = 2471), STH infections and calprotectin concentrations were measured in stool samples and acute phase proteins C-reactive protein (CRP) and alpha-1 acid glycoprotein (AGP) were measured in blood. The authors found no significant associations between elevated concentrations of either acute phase proteins or fecal calprotectin and STH infections.

Prevalence and intensity of Trichuris trichiura infection and associated determinants in rural tea garden areas of Bangladesh

Muhammed Hossain and Jamal Uddin Bhuiyan
Journal of Bacteriology & Mycology
The tea garden areas of Sylhet district located 315km north east from capital city Dhaka were selected for this study as it is the poorest area of Bangladesh. This cross sectional study included 300 participants in rural slums of tea garden community in the district. The economic condition of the household is significantly associated with T. trichiura (human whipworm) infection, and chemotherapy on regular basis for prevention was shown to reduce parasitic infection in a cost effective way.

Could You Fight Off Worms? Depends On Your Gut Microbes

Nadia M Whitehead
"When the body is infected with worms, it tries to do worm expulsion with an inflammatory reaction," says Makedonka Mitreva, the lead researcher on the study. "Worms have to fight back to remain in the gut; that's why worms are known to secrete anti-inflammatory molecules to reduce inflammation." Dr. Mitreva adds, "Our interpretation is that parasites need a healthy environment for long-term survival. Good bacteria may facilitate parasitic survival, so a bacterium like Olsenella that decreases gut inflammation is helpful."

Soil-transmitted helminth treatment: multiple-drug regimens

Simon J Brooker
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
In the past decade, deworming programmes targeting soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) have been scaled up, with 640 million individuals treated in 2016.1 This progress has in part been a result of the generous donations of albendazole by GlaxoSmithKline and mebendazole by Johnson & Johnson. However, these benzimidazole drugs have two main limitations: (1) low efficacy against Trichuris trichiura and variable efficacy against hookworm,2 and (2) the risk of emergence of drug-resistant parasites as a result of their increased use.

Scaling down a deworming program among school‐age children after a thirty‐year successful intervention in the Bolivian Chaco

Michele Spinicci et al.
Tropical Medicine & International Health
In the Bolivian Chaco, 6‐monthly single‐dose mebendazole delivery to school‐age children achieved a dramatic decrease in soil‐transmitted helminthiases prevalence between 1987 and 2013. Consequently, in September 2016, preventive chemotherapy delivery was interrupted in 9 rural communities. In compliance with WHO recommendations, the research team intensified surveillance to monitor soil‐transmitted helminthiases prevalence and detect potential changes that would require interventions.


UK aid to help eliminate the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness across poorest countries in the Commonwealth by 2020

The Rt Hon Penny Murdaunt MP
United Kingdom Department for International Development
To help eliminate the disease, UK aid will provide additional support to 10 Commonwealth countries over the next 2 years, providing antibiotics to millions, surgery and education programmes to teach people how to stop the spread of Trachoma. "This further commitment will mean millions of people across the Commonwealth will receive vital sight-saving treatment and we will be on course to eliminate this ancient and avoidable disease," says The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt of the UK Department for International Development.

Oral doxycycline for the prevention of postoperative trachomatous trichiasis in Ethiopia: a randomized control trial

Esmael Habtamu et al.
The Lancet Global Health
Between Dec 21, 2015, and April 6, 2016, 1000 patients with trichiasis were enrolled and randomly assigned to treatment (499 patients to doxycycline, 501 patients to placebo). All but one participant attended at least one follow-up assessment Doxycycline did not reduce the risk of postoperative trichiasis and is therefore not indicated for the improvement of outcomes following trachomatous trichiasis surgery.

[COMMENT] Reducing the risk of postoperative trichiasis: lessons from a clinical trial

Emily W Gower
The Lancet Global Health
Habtamu and colleagues concluded that doxycycline should not be integrated into standard care for trichiasis surgery. However, unfavorable outcomes were rare, which serves as a reminder to the trachoma community that attaining good surgical results is achievable.

Survey finds trachoma rampant in kids

Rajiv Konwar
The Telegraph (India)
A survey conducted at 10 locations in Guwahati has found 1.5 per cent children between one and nine years affected by trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world. The National Trachoma Rapid Assessment Survey, India, 2014-17, conducted by Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS, New Delhi, examined 519 children. Eight of them were found to have trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF), at which stage the infection is just beginning

Sudanese Female Ophthalmic Surgeons Focused on Saving Sight

The Carter Center
Even in the shade it was 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be challenging to focus in that kind of heat, but Dr. Saisabil Omer and Dr. Mayasa Mustafa were committed to providing sight-saving surgery to the men and women who came to the Carter Center-supported trachoma clinic in Al Fashaga, Gedarif state, Sudan.

Kebbi, Cross River Patients To Benefit From Free Eye Surgery

PM News (Nigeria)
A commercial bank has commenced a free eye surgery for 400 people affected by cataract in Kebbi and Cross River States. Abdullahi Mainasara, the North West Zonal Head of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), made this known at the “Community outreach for priceless gift of sight’’ program in Birnin Kebbi on Tuesday. “For this year, the team of highly professional and dedicated surgeons from the foundation have commenced work here in Kebbi and Cross River states. They will perform surgery on another 400 people suffering from cataract in both states,” he said.


A simple tool for doubling down on disease control

Karen Taber
It's a simple idea: pair the control of a neglected tropical disease with a more prominent disease that afflict the same populations to reduce morbidity and mortality. "This disease combination is particularly interesting," Professor Claire Standley explains. "We know that having schistosomiasis increases the risk of severe malaria. So if, for example, public health officials are in a community handing out bed nets, it could make sense to also treat for schistosomiasis because of the down-the-road benefit of reducing the risk of malaria."

Decision support for evidence-based integration of disease control: A proof of concept for malaria and schistosomiasis

Claire J Standley et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The model upon which the tool is built provides predictive analysis for the effectiveness of integration of schistosomiasis and malaria control, two diseases with extensive geographical and epidemiological overlap. This proof-of-concept method and tool demonstrate significant progress in effectively translating the best available scientific models to support pragmatic decision-making on the ground, with the potential to significantly increase the impact and cost-effectiveness of disease control.

The END Fund Is Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases for 1.5 Billion People

David Brand
Global Citizen
In early-April, representatives from the END Fund arrived at the Global Citizen office lugging a jar filled with 200 intestinal worms. They came to educate Global Citizen staff about a collection of preventable illnesses known as Neglected Tropical Diseases — parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect more than 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people, including more than 800 million children. The END Fund has partnered with Global Citizen to help eradicate and treat these preventable illnesses.

Nasarawa State Free From Lymphatic Filariasis, Trachoma

PMNews (Nigeria)
Iya, represented by Dr Ibrahim Adamu, Director of Public Health at the state’s Ministry of Health, said the positive development was due to the collaboration between the state government and the Carter Center. He added that apart from the elimination of the two NTDs, the synergy has also succeeded in interrupting onchocerciasis and stopping its treatment in 2018. “I wish to appreciate the Carter Center for their immense financial and technical support towards NTD programme in Nasarawa state since inception to date in stamping out these diseases."

War on preventable diseases in full gear

Sicily Kariuki and Rudi Eggers
Daily Nation (Kenya)
Kenya fully supports the London Declaration to Sustain, Expand and Extend programmes that ensure the necessary supply of drugs and other interventions to help eradicate the neglected tropical diseases outlined. The next five years will be exciting for Kenya as we knock down one disease after the other. That will be a significant contribution to Kenya’s journey to universal health coverage (UHC). We are confident that, in our generation, and most likely in the next decade, we will eliminate many diseases and, indeed, achieve UHC. But the time to act is now.


Spatial distribution of leprosy in India: an ecological study

Kyra H Grantz et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
the authors found evidence of a modest relationship between poverty and leprosy at the district level for India, in the context of a slowly declining incidence. These results also emphasize the role of surveillance capacity in the detection, treatment, and prevention of leprosy cases—indeed, a large scale population-based detection campaign has been recently undertaken across endemic districts. More information at the individual level, from cross-sectional population-based surveys and assessment of surveillance capacity, is needed to understand the relationship between poverty and leprosy, and to overcome poverty and stigma as obstacles to leprosy elimination

Concomitant visceral and localized cutaneous leishmaniasis in two Moroccan infants

Tarik Mouttaki et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
These singular patients illustrate the clinical polymorphism of [cutaneous leishmaniasis, or] CL and the necessity of updating the differential diagnosis of leukemia-like syndromes, including [visceral leishmaniasis, or] VL, in children living in or traveling to known endemic areas. These observations suggest a change in the Mediterranean VL phenotype that may be associated with CL.

Clinical trial to find new treatment for visceral leishmaniasis begins in eastern Africa

Linet Otieno
A new study to find a safer, efficacious and more patient-friendly treatment and improved diagnostic tools for people living with visceral leishmaniasis (VL) has begun in eastern Africa, within the new Afri-KA-DIA Consortium with funding from The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) . . . “This package of care combining oral treatment and a specific diagnostic tool for primary VL could potentially improve overall case management in eastern Africa and be the cornerstone of successful control and elimination approaches for national programmes in the region,” said Dr Monique Wasunna, Director, DNDi Africa.

Chagas Disease Can - And Must - Be Treated

Javier Sancho
IS Global
Chagas Disease can and must be treated. This is the message that the Global Coalition for Chagas Disease, together with its partners and allies, wishes to underline on the occasion of International Chagas Day next April 14. The tools for diagnosis and treatment must be made available to the population affected by the disease, both in endemic countries and in those countries where the disease has spread due to migratory flows, such as Spain or the United States, where hundreds of thousand affected people live.

Implications of insecticide resistance for malaria vector control with long-lasting insecticidal nets: a cohort study

Immo Kleinschmidt et al.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
Between June 2, 2012, and Nov 4, 2016, 40 000 children were enrolled and assessed for clinical incidence during 1·4 million follow-up visits. Long-lasting insecticidal net users had lower infection prevalence (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·63, 95% CI 0·51–0·78) and disease incidence (adjusted rate ratio [RR] 0·62, 0·41–0·94) than did non-users across a range of resistance levels.

Lancet Commission to develop first-ever roadmap for malaria eradication

Catherine Cheney
The Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication launched Tuesday, bringing together 24 experts from around the world to develop the first-ever roadmap for malaria eradication. “This will be the first cohesive document on malaria eradication and how to get there,” said Ingrid Chen, assistant professor at UCSF and lead for the commission’s secretariat, which is hosted by the university.

‘Resistance breaking’ mosquito net provides children with greater protection against malaria

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
A novel class of bed net that neutralises mosquitos’ ability to resist pyrethroid insecticide is shown to significantly reduce malaria infection in children, according to new research published in The Lancet. Professor Mark Rowland from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Principal Investigator, said: “This project is a game-changer. The trial is the first clear evidence that nets treated with piperonyl butoxide can significantly improve personal and community protection from malaria compared to standard pyrethroid-only nets in areas where there is high pyrethroid resistance."

PATH and Mologic advance a new diagnostic test to support malaria elimination

Kate Davidson and Mark Davis
Dx News
PATH and United Kingdom-based test developer Mologic have entered an agreement to advance a new rapid diagnostic test to support treatment and elimination of Plasmodium vivax, or relapsing, malaria. “This test will be a significant addition to the G6PD testing options available to health care providers to inform case management of patients with P. vivax malaria,” says Dr. Gonzalo Domingo, scientific director and malaria diagnostics lead at PATH. “It will help to fill critical gaps in G6PD testing experienced by elimination programs, and will complement quantitative tests for G6PD deficiency being advanced by PATH and partners.”

Upcoming Events

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.

Re-Imagining Global Health Partnerships in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Era
April 23,  London, UK
Royal Society of Medicine
This half day meeting will gather academics, funders and practitioners from health and development sectors together to discuss how health partnerships can collaborate with and promote inter-disciplinary research.

Examining the Economic and Financial Case for Tackling NCDsgh
April 24,  Washington, DC
RTI International
This event will spotlight The Lancet's recently published NCD Economics Task Force Series, led by RTI's Rachel Nugent. The five Task Force articles outline a common agenda for ministries of health, ministries of finance, and other ministries to use economic tools for NCD prevention and control efforts to achieve progress on nine Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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.

Ethically Managing Global Health Fieldwork Risks
April 26-28,  Atlanta, Georgia
Agnes Scott College
Agnes Scott College, The Task Force for Global Health, and Emory's Rollins School of Public Health have partnered together on a workshop entitled "Ethically Managing Global Fieldwork Risks" that will take place at Agnes Scott College. Panelists will include Dr. Elizabeth Kiss, President of Agnes Scott College, Amb. Mary Ann Peters, CEO of The Carter Center, and Dr. Dave Ross, President and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health.  The discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Jim Lavery, Hilton Chair of Global Health Ethics, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

Epidemic Going Viral: Innovation vs. Nature
April 27,  Live Web Event
Massachussetts Medical Society
Today, every epidemic has the potential of becoming a pandemic with catastrophic implications for globa; health. Epidemics Going Viral: Innovation vs. Nature examines this complex challenge from the perspectives of researchers, clinicians, and others who have first-hand experience dealing with epidemics. This free live web event is presented by the Massachussetts Medical Society, featuring conversations with Bill Gates and Paul Farmer.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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. 

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.