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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.



Lymphatic filariasis

Comparison of antigen and antibody responses in repeat lymphatic filariasis transmission assessment surveys in American Samoa

Kimberly Y Won et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
A current need in the global effort to eliminate LF is to standardize diagnostic tools and surveillance activities beyond the recommended transmission assessment survey (TAS). TAS was first conducted in American Samoa in 2011 (TAS 1) and a repeat TAS was carried out in 2015 (TAS 2) . . . Despite passing TAS 1 and TAS 2, clustering and persistence of positive antibody responses in schools may be an indication of ongoing transmission. Results from this evaluation suggest a need to better understand the limitations of current antibody tests, but also that serologic tools can have a role in guiding programmatic decision-making.

The Mangyan and MDA: Uncovering Social Barriers in Mindoro Oriental

Molly Starke
Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
By adding a single question to her survey, Dr. Leda Hernandez and her team at the Philippines Department of Health uncovered social barriers to mass drug administration that undermined the efficiency and effectiveness of the national lymphatic filariasis elimination program . . . “Questions can lead to more questions,” explains Dr. Hernandez. “The key is the zestful pursuit to find the answers which will guide the program to develop strategies and approaches that appropriately addresses the challenges of the future for the greater good of all.”

LSTM study identifies a novel mechanism of immune activation in filarial parasitic infection

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
In this new research, a cellular and molecular pathway of anti-filarial immune activation has been determined. In this pathway, adaptive immune responses against initial infection triggers proliferation of local macrophages (a type of specialized white blood cell), displaying an 'alternatively-activated' phenotype. These tissue-site macrophages are necessary to orchestrate the sustained recruitment of eosinophil granulocytes from the blood, ultimately leading to immune-mediated killing of Brugia malayi filarial larvae.


Report of the first international workshop on onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy

Robert Colebunders et al.
BMC Infectious Diseases
On October 12–14th 2017, the first international workshop on onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) was held in Antwerp, Belgium. The workshop was attended by 79 participants from 20 different countries. Although the exact pathophysiological mechanism underlying OAE remains unknown, there is increasing evidence that by controlling and eliminating onchocerciasis, OAE will also disappear. Given the high numbers of people with epilepsy in O. volvulus-endemic regions, more advocacy is urgently needed to provide anti-epileptic treatment to improve the quality of life of these individuals and their families.

Onchocerca volvulus infection in Tihama, Yemen: Continuing transmission in ivermectin-targeted endemic foci

Mohammed A. K. Mahdy et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This cross-sectional study was conducted in two ivermectin-targeted districts endemic for onchocerciasis in Hodeidah and Al-Mahwit and two untargeted districts with unknown previous endemicity in Hodeidah between February and July 2017. The study revealed an overall anti-Ov16 IgG4 rate of 18.5% (94/508) in all surveyed districts, with 10.2% (12/118) of children aged ≤10 years being seropositive. Moreover, rates of 8.0% (4/50) and 6.1% (4/66) were found in districts not officially listed as endemic for the disease.


Anti‐schistosome responses after four annual treatments

Eric M. Ndombi et al.
Parasite Immunology
This study evaluated potential changes in anti‐schistosome immune responses in children from schools that received four rounds of annual mass drug administration (MDA) of praziquantel (PZQ). Schistosome soluble egg antigen (SEA) and soluble worm antigen preparation (SWAP) stimulated higher IL‐5 production by egg‐negative children in the post‐MDA group compared to the baseline group. This resulted in higher anti‐SEA IgE/IgG4 ratios for children in the post‐MDA group compared to baseline.

Investigating Schistosomiasis

Hannah Russell
Clinical Services Journal
In this article, junior doctor Hannah Russell describes how point-of-care ultrasound was put to the test in remote locations during an expedition to study the disease in Malagasy school children.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

A Randomized Controlled Trial to Measure Spillover Effects of a Combined Water, Sanitation, and Handwashing in Bangladesh

Jade Benjamin-Chung et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology
From January to August 2015, in 180 clusters, we enrolled 1,799 neighboring children age-matched to trial participants that would have been eligible for WASH Benefits had they been conceived slightly earlier or later. After 28 months of intervention, we quantified fecal indicator bacteria in toy rinse and drinking water samples, measured soil-transmitted helminth infections, and recorded caregiver-reported diarrhea and respiratory illness. The prevalence of detectable E. coli in tubewell samples was lower for neighbors of intervention vs. control trial participants (prevalence ratio = 0.83; 0.73, 0.95).

Nat'l Deworming Week begins today

The New Nation (Bangladesh)
The 20th National Deworming Week will start today in all the districts across the country with a view to decline worm-related diseases to zero percent.


Trailblazing the End of Trachoma: Four Reasons for Optimism in 2018

Paul Emerson
The Task Force for Global Health
In 1998, building on the work of the pioneers, a small but audacious group of partners took on the challenge of trachoma and created a global partnership. Today, this partnership includes over 40 countries, and an active collaboration between non-governmental, donor, private sector and academic organizations working together in the International Coalition for Trachoma Control to make antibiotic distributions more accessible, surgeries more affordable, and water, sanitation and hygiene facilities more dependable.

Lessons from Darfur: How to deliver healthcare in insecure regions

Simon Bush
Thomas Reuters Foundation News
Delivering a new program of this scale across Darfur was always going to be challenging. This is not just because the region has been so recently scarred by conflict, but also because it required a huge number of donated drugs and a large trained workforce of health professionals and volunteers to administer them. Now a year into the program, [Sightsavers has] been reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned about disease prevention in regions such as Darfur.

[VIDEO] ENVISION In Focus - Ending Trachoma: Nepal's Last Mile

RTI International
Meet a team of specialists going house to house in Gorkha, Nepal to carry out a ‘last check’ on Nepal’s path to trachoma elimination. But they don’t expect to find any cases. The latest in ENVISION’s In Focus photo series features the people who are part of a truly historic global health moment: the elimination of trachoma from Nepal. Watch the story to learn how close Nepal is to eliminating the disease, and what it means for the people of Nepal.


Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases Portal Update

Maria Rebollo Polo
World Health Organization Africa
New MDA coverage, site level mapping data, impact assessments and country master plans are now available for download. Check it out!

Incentivizing disease elimination through debt relief

Kenneth Gustavsen
Since 2013, annual updates from WHO and other stakeholders showcase the significant accomplishments towards achieving the global NTD goals. Unfortunately, even with these various partnership and tracking mechanisms, the rate of progress is not sufficient to achieve the current disease control and elimination goals. While existing frameworks like the WHO Roadmap, the London Declaration and the ALMA scorecard provide the vision to achieve the NTD control and elimination goals, what is lacking is an innovative financial incentive mechanism – a “prize” – that would galvanize and accelerate country-led efforts.

Five ways to improve private investment in global health R&D

Jake Schneider and Darrell M. West
The Brookings Institution
To discuss ways to improve private investment in global health drugs and vaccines, the authors convened a roundtable of high-level health professionals and practitioners representing businesses, academia, non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and foundations. The discussion addressed numerous global health R&D topics ranging from private sector investment barriers and improving regulatory processes to the need for greater systematic data and new technologies for reducing drug development costs. Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion.

World Health Organization: Yemen, Annual Report 2017

World Health Organization
This report covers the WHO and health partners’ response to this humanitarian crisis from January to December 2017, and spans five crucial parts: the Health Cluster, the Minimum Service Package (MSP), the cholera and diphtheria outbreaks, managing the treatment of endemic and noncommunicable diseases and financial priority needs and gaps.

Stakeholders urged to intensify awareness of neglected infectious diseases

Stabroek News
Stakeholders in the health sector met on Tuesday for a one-day workshop at the Herdmanston Lodge where attention was focused on the national action plan for Neglected Infectious (Tropical) Diseases (NIDs). The workshop hosted by the Ministry of Public Healths Vector Control Unit was convened under the theme: Strike a decisive blow against five neglected infectious diseases and improve thousands of Guyanese lives.

Safety and mosquitocidal efficacy of high-dose ivermectin co-administered with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in Kenyan adults

Menno R Smit et al.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
Ivermectin is being considered for mass drug administration for malaria due to its ability to kill mosquitoes feeding on recently treated individuals. Standard, single doses of 150–200 μg/kg used for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis have a short-lived mosquitocidal effect (<7 days). Because ivermectin is well tolerated up to 2000 μg/kg, this study aims to establish the safety, tolerability, and mosquitocidal efficacy of 3 day courses of high-dose ivermectin, co-administered with a standard malaria treatment.

Researchers In Kenya Made Human Blood Deadly To Mosquitoes

Allan Adamson
Tech Times
In a new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Thursday, March 29, researchers in Kenya gave 47 participants 600 milligrams of ivermectin for three consecutive days and then took blood samples that were then fed to mosquitoes in cages. The study found that the blood of patients who took three high doses of ivermectin in pill form can be poisonous to mosquitoes for up to 28 days. The researchers found that two weeks after feeding on the blood placed in artificial membranes, 97 percent of the mosquitoes in the cage died.

Why It's Critical That Women Lead the Fight Against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Imogen Calderwood
Global Citizen
For women, urogenital schistosomiasis is a common gynaecological condition in Africa and a consequence of having the schistosomiasis infection. This is significant because it can cause pregnancy complications, and leads to an increased risk of HIV transmission.


GHIT Fund launches next phase focusing on access & delivery, bringing total investment to US $123 million

Katy Lenard
The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund today announced a total of 1.6 billion yen (US$15.5 million) and 10 partnerships to support product development of new lifesaving drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases such as Chagas disease, schistosomiasis and leishmaniasis.

Yale researchers assess Chagas elimination plan

Allen Siegler
Yale News
Overseen by School of Public Health professor Alison Galvani, a team of researchers used a computer-generated simulation to estimate the impact of meeting the WHO’s Chagas-control aspirations. The group found that the London Declaration’s Chagas protocols had successful long-term effects. Assuming the full success of the Declaration guidelines, the model predicted a drastic short-term reduction in new cases.

Drones Combat Dengue and Zika Outbreaks in Brazil

Sarah Whittaker
Unmanned aerial vehicles are being used in the recognition of outbreaks of proliferation of mosquitoes transmitting dengue and zika virus in Cuiabá, capital city of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. “A more efficient form of combat, as the drone identifies and marks mosquito-focused sites via geographic points, and that data is passed on to ground crews that can increase the effectiveness of their work,” points out Fernando Pereira, founder of Loglab.

Spatio-temporal coherence of dengue, chikungunya and Zika outbreaks in Merida, Mexico

Donal Bisanzio et al.
This article provides quantitative evidence of the strong spatio-temporal overlap that occurs between dengue, chikungunya and Zika, all transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Merida, Mexico. Findings from this article open a window for considering historical DENV data to make predictions of likely sources of invasion for other emerging Aedes-borne viruses, as well as to the consideration of spatially-targeted approaches for delivery of vector control and surveillance.

Recognizing the Global Impact of Zika Virus Infection during Pregnancy

Margaret A Honein
The New England Journal of Medicine
Although there is growing clarity about the magnitude of the risk of serious birth defects associated with ZIKV infection detected during the newborn period, the full range of disabilities, including the possible effect on neurodevelopment, remains unknown. Follow-up of children whose mothers had confirmed Zika virus infection during pregnancy is essential for understanding the full spectrum of disabilities associated with congenital Zika virus infection and for planning for the medical care and social services needed by affected families.

Global assembly reinvigorates efforts to beat leprosy

Charity Today
A global assembly, hosted by UK-based specialist leprosy charity, Lepra, brought together delegates from across the world to reinvigorate efforts to beat leprosy. The assembly was held at Lepra’s Head Office in Colchester, Essex on Monday 19th – Friday 23rd March. The meetings were chaired by the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP). and the Disease Management, Disability and Inclusion (DMDI) working group of the Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network (NNN). The leadership team for the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy also hosted their Inaugural Meeting.

U.S. leprosy budget cut closes clinics, threatens research

Jon Cohen
Science Magazine
About 3300 people in the United States need care for leprosy, also known as Hansen disease. The United States has long had the National Hansen’s Disease Program, which is based in Baton Rouge and has a network of 16 clinics across the continental United States and Puerto Rico that treat the disease. The new congressional budget reduces it from $15.2 million to $13.7 million, a cut of about 10%.

Upcoming Events

World Vaccine Washington
April 3-5, Washington, DC
Make sure you are at the forefront of the vaccines industry. No matter where your interest lies, we have content, networking and potential partners for you. By bringing eight events together under one roof, you get to choose the sessions which are the most applicable to help your business plan for the future of vaccine research, development and manufacture.

World Health Day
April 7
United Nations
This year's Wold Health Day theme will be "Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere." At least half of the world's people is currently unable to obtain essential health services. "Universal health coverage" is about ensuring all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

Multilateral Initiative on Malaria 
April 15-18, Dakar, Senegal
The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was established in 1997 with a mission to strengthen and sustain through collaborative research and training, the capacity of malaria-endemic countries in Africa to carry out research that is required to develop and improve tools for malaria control and to strengthen the research-control interphase.

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

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.

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

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

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. Approximately 14.75 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM will be offered for this course.

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

June 25-26, London, UK
ISNTD d3 will bring togther experts from within drug discovery and clinical trials to drive the debate and foster new partnerships & alliances leading to tangible outcomes in terms of new therapies to combat these diseases.

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5,  Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

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. 

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

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 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.