New Frontiers in Vector Control, Celebrating World Chagas Disease Day and Other NTD News

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 Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases or the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.

Photo: New Frontiers in Vector Control
Adult Anopheles mosquito at the KEMRI/CDC research institute in Kisumu, Kenya

Photo credit: WHO/S. Torfinn

Lymphatic filariasis

Lira starts battle against neglected tropical diseases

Noelyn Nassuuna, 93.3 KFM (Uganda)

The Lira District health department has embarked on the fight against the Neglected Tropical Diseases, especially hydrocele, lymphedema and elephantiasis that have continued to cause morbidities and disabilities in the area. Dr. Patrick Buchan Ocen, the District Health Officer (DHO), says the district is now one year into the programme for elimination of morbidities and disabilities caused by lymphatic filariasis. As of February 2022, over 400 patients with lymphedema and elephantiasis in the two local governments had been registered and trained in self-care and managed, he said.

Wolbachia depletion blocks transmission of lymphatic filariasis by preventing chitinase-dependent parasite exsheathment

Shannon Quek et al., PNAS

Here, we show that Wolbachia-depleted mf cannot develop within the mosquito vector—a phenotype associated with down-regulation of B. malayi mf-specific chitinase, an enzyme essential for exsheathment. Our findings add to the broad range of host biological processes dependent on Wolbachia and suggest that anti-Wolbachia treatment mediates a more accelerated impact on elimination of lymphatic filariasis than currently predicted.

Villages in Baglung at risk of elephantiasis

Prakash Baral, The Kathmandu Post

The onset of the summer season has worried health workers in Baglung with mosquito-borne diseases becoming prevalent in Narayansthan of Baglung Municipality-14 and Kushmisera of Jaimini Municipality-1. According to health workers, patients with lymphatic filariasis, also called elephantiasis, have been reported from these two places in the past year.

Elephantiasis is still endemic in Ghana – GHS

Zadok Kwame Gyesi, Graphic Online

The Deputy Programme Manager in charge of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) under the Disease Control Department of the Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Joseph Kwadwo Larbi Opare, says lymphatic Filariasis commonly known as elephantiasis is still a major public health challenge in Ghana. According to him, lymphatic Filariasis is endemic in 114 districts out of the 260 districts in the country with 11 districts serving as hotspot for the disease. Similarly, he noted, the disease is endemic in 12 regions out of the 16 regions of the country.

Karnataka: 16 cases of elephantiasis in Tumakuru district this year

S Bhuvaneshwari, The Times of India

Though lymphatic filariasis, a vector-borne disease commonly known as elephantiasis, is not endemic to Tumakuru, 16 cases have been reported in the district since January. The infection is found among migrant workers who come to work in projects such as Yettinahole, Smart City, and railway and and construction ventures, doctors said.

Onchocerciasis

Vector control and entomological capacity for onchocerciasis elimination

Iñaki Tirados et al., Trends in Parasitology
  • Modelling studies have suggested that elimination of transmission (EoT) of onchocerciasis may not be achieved by relying solely on mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin, particularly in hyperendemic areas and in those areas where onchocerciasis and loiasis are coendemic.
  • In onchocerciasis-loiasis coendemic areas, vector control methods could provide complementary strategies to accelerate elimination. Study of host-seeking behaviour could inform the development of new control/monitoring tools against vectors.
  • These new tools could be used against vectors of onchocerciasis, vectors of loiasis, or both.
  • Control and monitoring tools, exploiting the natural attraction of hosts, could be implemented by communities and enhance country ownership.
  • To ensure vector control capacity, well-trained, motivated, and appropriately funded local entomologists are essential to lead vector research and entomological operations.

Pharmacokinetics of oral moxidectin in individuals with Onchocerca volvulus infection

Beesan Tan et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Despite progress towards elimination in many areas, others are not progressing well towards elimination and may require alternative treatment strategies. Moxidectin, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2018 for treatment of onchocerciasis in people at least 12 years old, could be an alternative. How the amount of a drug in the body changes over time is important for choosing a dose and treatment regimen and for regulatory approval. We measured moxidectin blood levels in 18 to 60 year old men and women with onchocerciasis. We found that moxidectin blood levels peaked around three-four hours after ingestion, that moxidectin stayed in the body for a long time (i.e., its elimination half-life was around 20 days) and that moxidectin blood levels depended on the dose, but not the infection severity as measured by the number of onchocerciasis parasites in the skin.

Schistosomiasis

Hiding in Plain Sight

Julie Jacobsen, Think Global Health

As we emerge from the worst days of COVID-19 and resume health interventions that were slowed or suspended during the pandemic, we need to take stock of blind spots that existed before the pandemic and move quickly to correct them. . . A new group is coming together to try to fill the gap and find the opportunities, the FGS Integration Group (FIG)—it links HIV partners, those fighting cervical cancer, and NTD partners to integrate FGS into existing programs to reduce unnecessary suffering. FGS is low-hanging fruit when it comes to addressing disparities in women's health. The treatment is cheap and effective, and it can be easily administered anytime a health-care provider is dealing with anything related to HIV, cervical cancer, STIs or just a routine visit. The biggest barrier is a lack of awareness of the problem.

A male-derived nonribosomal peptide pheromone controls female schistosome development

Rui Chen et al., Cell

These data reveal that peptide-based pheromone signaling controls female schistosome sexual maturation, suggesting avenues for therapeutic intervention and uncovering a role for nonribosomal peptides as metazoan signaling molecules.

Clinical Applications of Isothermal Diagnosis for Human Schistosomiasis

Ursula Panzner, Encyclopedia

Isothermal diagnostics are highly valuable in detecting trace infections seen subsequent to chemotherapeutic treatment, and among apparently healthy individuals, both constituting likely sources of ongoing pathogen transmission.

Blocking prostanoid receptors switches on multiple immune responses and cascades of inflammatory signaling against larval stages in snail fever

Sameh Saber, Suliman Y. Alomar and Galal Yahya, Environmental Science and Pollution Research

We suggest that by selectively constraining the production of PGE2 during vaccination or therapy of susceptible persons or infected patients of schistosomiasis, this would boost IL-12 and reduce IL-10 production leading to a polarization toward the anti-worm Thl cytokine synthesis (IL-2 and Interferon (IFN)-γ).

Bilharzia outbreak in southern Zambia contained.

Ssonghai

Health authorities have contained an outbreak of bilharzia in Zambia’s southern Chirundu district, an official said on Monday. Bilharzia, or schistosomiasis, broke out on April 7 at a school in the district, affecting about 150 schoolchildren aged between seven and 15. Health minister Sylvia Masebo said pupils with symptoms received treatment and others without symptoms received preventive care.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

An assessment of implementation and effectiveness of mass drug administration for prevention and control of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths in selected southern Malawi districts

Peter Makaula et al., BMC Health Services Research

With the high MDA coverage obtained in communities and schools, the effectiveness of MDA in the target districts is satisfactory. There are, however, several challenges including disproportionate knowledge levels, which are hampering progress towards attainment of the 2030 global NTD goals. There is a need for promotion of community participation and partnerships as well as implementation of other recommended interventions for sustainable prevention and control of schistosomiasis and STH.

Prevalence, intensity of infection and associated risk factors of soil-transmitted helminth infections among school children at Tachgayint woreda, Northcentral Ethiopia

Tahir Eyayu et al., PLOS One

More than one-third of the school children were infected with at least one STH species and this indicates that STHs are still a health problem among school children in the study area. Therefore, periodic deworming, implementation of different prevention strategies, and health education programs should be regularly applied in the area.

Prevalence and associated risk factors of soil-transmitted helminth infections in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Bilal Ahmad Rahimi et al., BMC Infectious Diseases

Prevalence of STH is high among children of Daman district in Afghanistan. Most of the risk factors are related to poverty, decreased sanitation, and improper hygiene. 

High intestinal parasite infection detected in children from Región Autónoma Atlántico Norte (R.A.A.N.) of Nicaragua

Carla Muñoz-Antoli, Paloma Pérez, Aleyda Pavón, Rafael Toledo and José Guillermo Esteban, Scientific Reports

Up to now, this is the first study involving two nearby areas (Puerto Cabezas and Siuna municipalities) of the Región Autónoma Atlántico Norte (R.A.A.N.). . .Overall prevalence of infection reached 97.0%, being the highest prevalences detected in all Nicaragua. The use of anthelmintic drugs only will not be sufficient to bring prevalence to low levels. It is necessary to design geographically more specific intervention, with communication and interaction between different disciplines (e.g. parasitology, biochemistry, molecular biology, epidemiology, public health, etc.) being imperative to reduce STH infection.

Cross-Sectional Study on Assessment of Frequency of Intestinal Helminth Infections and Its Related Risk Factors among School Children from Adola Town, Ethiopia

Edaso Amana Husen et al., BioMed Research International

In the study area, the prevalence of IHIs is moderately high and represents a public health problem in the school children. 

Trachoma

Washing away blinding trachoma

Adalla Allan, People Daily (Kenya)

Despite the effort to help kick trachoma out of Kenya, Dr Chege says that one of the major challenges is the lack of access to water and sanitation infrastructure that is critical for good hygiene.

Fight Against Trachoma In Turkana Bears Fruit

Peter Gitonga, Kenya News Agency

Turkana County has made significant strides by reducing trachoma prevalence from 42.3% in 2010 to the current 9.9%.

Cross-cutting

Community-based trial assessing the impact of annual versus semiannual mass drug administration with ivermectin plus albendazole and praziquantel on helminth infections in northwestern Liberia

Obiora A. Eneanya et al., Acta Tropica
  • Mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin plus albendazole was more effective for clearing bancroftian filariasis than it was for onchocerciasis or hookworm.
  • Semiannual MDA was no more effective than annual MDA for reducing prevalences of W. bancrofti, O. volvulus, or hookworm infections.
  • Neglected tropical disease elimination programs in areas coendemic for lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis should focus on delivering high quality annual MDA with high coverage and compliance and not try to stretch limited resources to deliver potentially suboptimal semiannual MDA.
  • MDA with praziquantel had little impact on Schistosoma mansoni infection in the heavily infected area.

The potential of conditional cash transfers for the control of neglected tropical diseases

Dirk Engels and Thoko Elphick-Pooley, The Lancet Global Health

Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programmes that are typically cross-sectoral in nature, have the potential to alleviate poverty and therefore improve social determinants of health.Conditionalities can be adapted to directly address health conditions specifically affecting vulnerable populations.4 CCT programmes might therefore have a catalytic effect on NTDs that are both a cause and a consequence of poverty,5 and allow tailoring of the health care package to the particular needs of the communities in which they primarily occur.

Are the neglected tropical diseases under control in the tri-border region between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay?

Filipa Mendes Oliveira, Ricardo Arcêncio, Marcos Augusto Moraes Arcoverde and Inês Fronteira, The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries

Although epidemiological studies are still needed to better understand and assess the prevalence of NTD in the area, mainly in Paraguay, these findings can inform decision-makers and health managers to plan a common strategy to address NTD.

Podcast: Implementation Research: Rethinking Our Approach to NTD Research

iCHORDS

Given the importance of IR as a tool to improve interventions in the neglected tropical diseases field, we set out to learn more about IR from Dr. Margaret Gyapong and Dr. Olumide Ogundahunsi. In this episode of The Last Mile podcast, you will:

  • Hear about the unique career journeys of Dr. Gyapong and Dr. Ogundahunsi and how they started working within the field of neglected tropical diseases   
  • Learn about the components and the research team makeup in IR
  • Gain insight into the different social and behavioural research methodologies used within IR 
  • See how the work Dr. Gyapong and Dr. Ogundahunsi do contribute to the last mile of NTD elimination and control

Other

Creating Sustainable Systems and Favorable Environments for National NTD Programs

Act to End NTDs | West

USAID’s Act to End NTDs | West (Act | West) program is excited to release three Technical Briefs that draw on experience and lessons learned from supporting nine West African countries to implement the USAID NTD sustainability framework. These briefs present a few ideas that focus on key aspects to effective program sustainability planning based on lessons the Act | West program learned from the field over the last 3 years:

  1. Advancing Sustainability in NTD Programs through Strengthening Ownership and Collaboration 
  2. Dynamic and Adaptive Technical Assistance for NTD Sustainability 
  3. Facilitating Multisectoral Coordination and Engagement for NTD Sustainability

Early Diagnosis and Treatment Can Save Millions of Lives World Chagas Day 2022

Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative

This World Chagas Day, April 14, 2022, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is joining the World Health Organization, the Chagas Coalition, and many other partners in a global effort to raise awareness about the disease.

New frontiers in vector control

World Health Organization

In the field vector control, researchers are working on several innovations that aim to enhance efforts to combat the disease.

Genuine intersectoral collaboration is needed to achieve better progress in vector control

Ashok Moloo, World Health Organization

The world needs to work better and collaborate with sectors beyond health to implement the Global Vector Control Response 2017–2030 (GVCR), which aims to prevent and control diseases that are transmitted by vectors, particularly mosquitoes.

Indian authorities sign an MoU for a data and skill-sharing partnership between ICMR and IDDO

Infectious Diseases Data Observatory

The Indian government’s Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO), based at the University of Oxford. The MoU will build a partnership both in and beyond data and skill-sharing and support capacity development with India’s scientific research community. . . . Both ICMR and IDDO will exchange and share ideas on emerging infections and three vector-borne diseases in the elimination phase: malaria, visceral leishmaniasis, and filariasis.

World Chagas Disease Day 2022

World Health Organization

In 2022 we are shining a spotlight on Chagas disease, the suffering it causes and are calling for equitable access to health care and services for everyone affected by the disease. The theme for 2022 is finding and reporting every case to defeat Chagas disease. In many countries, there are low detection rates (<10%, frequently <1%) and frequent barriers to access adequate healthcare. Chagas disease is prevalent among poor populations of continental Latin America but is increasingly being detected in other countries and continents. It is often termed as a “silent and silenced disease” as the infected majority have no symptoms or extremely mild symptom. There are approximately 6-7 million people infected with Chagas disease worldwide, with 10,000 deaths, every year.

UPCOMING EVENTS

NOTE - Events may be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with event organizers to confirm events. 

Leishmaniasis in Africa: The Challenges and way Forward 
April 27, 2022
Universidad de Antioquia

Mobilizing Domestic Resources for NTDs: Lessons from Colombia, Guatemala, and Philippines 
April 28, 2022
USAID’s Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East program with The NTD NGO Network

47th Annual Topics in Infection
June 17, 2022
RSTMH, Barts Health and UKHSA

Worldleish7 (the international Congress on leishmaniasis)
Aug. 1-6, 2022

2022 COR-NTD Annual Meeting
October 4-5, 2022
Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

2022 ASTMH Annual Meeting
October 30-November 3, 2022
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 

21st International Leprosy Congress 2022
November 8-10, 2022