Abstract: Under the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) American Samoa conducted seven rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) between 2000 and 2006. Subsequently, the territory passed the WHO recommended school-based transmission assessment survey (TAS) in 2011/2012 (TAS-1) and 2015 (TAS-2) but failed in 2016, when both TAS-3 and a community survey found LF antigen prevalence above what it had been in previous surveys. This study aimed to identify potential environmental drivers of LF to refine future surveillance efforts to detect re-emergence and recurrence. Data on five LF infection markers: antigen, Wb123, Bm14 and Bm33 antibodies and microfilaraemia, were obtained from a population-wide serosurvey conducted in American Samoa in 2016. Spatially explicit data on environmental factors were derived from freely available sources. Separate multivariable Poisson regression models were developed for each infection marker to assess and quantify the associations between LF infection markers and environmental variables. Rangeland, tree cover and urban cover were consistently associated with a higher seroprevalence of LF-infection markers, but to varying magnitudes between landcover classes. High slope gradient, population density and crop cover had a negative association with the seroprevalence of LF infection markers. No association between rainfall and LF infection markers was detected, potentially due to the limited variation in rainfall across the island. This study demonstrated that seroprevalence of LF infection markers were more consistently associated with topographical environmental variables, such as gradient of the slope, rather than climatic variables, such as rainfall. These results provide the initial groundwork to support the detection of areas where LF transmission is more likely to occur, and inform LF elimination efforts through better understanding of the environmental drivers.
To evaluate strategies to improve the sensitivity of the TAS for detecting evidence of recent lymphatic filariasis transmission in an evaluation unit (EU). The TAS Strengthening Study in American Samoa is designed to assess additional indicators that may be added to the current TAS platform in order to strengthen the resulting stopping or surveillance decisions. A comprehensive analysis will be conducted to understand the correlation between antigen and antibody in adults and children with the mosquito data. A spatial analysis looking at microfoci of infection will also be conducted. Xenomonitoring work to assess Aedes mosquitoes is underway.
Preliminary Findings and Lessons Learned
The ultimate goal of this study is to strengthen the existing TAS platform so that the programs can be more confident with their stopping and surveillance decisions. In order to strengthen the existing TAS platform we need to better understand which target population(s) and diagnostic indicator(s) are best-suited for identifying areas with persistent transmission that is not expected to cease on its own, knowing that the answer may vary according the primary vector and stage of the program. In the selected sites a community-based TAS was conducted using the standard sampling of 6-7 year olds while a community TAS (individuals >8 years) was conducted concurrently. All samples were tested via FTS and DBS (for Wb123 ELISA). In these same communities a molecular xenomonitoring study will take place and the mosquitoes will be tested for filarial DNA to relate back to the human specimens. To date human sampling has been completed in all sites and laboratory analysis of the specimens is complete. Mosquito collection has been completed in Haiti and Tanzania and the PCR analysis has been completed in Haiti and is planned for Tanzania (pending the arrival of a new PCR machine). In American Samoa xenomonitoring has been delayed due to weather conditions and arbovirus outbreaks; work is expected to commence spring 2018.