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

Won KY, Robinson K, Hamlin KL, Tufa J, Seespesara M, Wiegand RE, Gass K, Kubofcik J, Nutman TB, Lammie PJ, Fuimaono S


Current WHO recommendations for lymphatic filariasis (LF) surveillance advise programs to implement activities to monitor for new foci of transmission after stopping mass drug administration (MDA). 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). Circulating filarial antigen (CFA) and serologic results from both surveys were analyzed to determine whether interruption of LF transmission has been achieved in American Samoa.


A total of 1,134 and 864 children (5-10 years old) were enrolled in TAS 1 and TAS 2, respectively. Two CFA-positive children were identified in TAS 1, and one CFA-positive child was identified in TAS 2. Results of both surveys were below the threshold for which MDA was warranted. Additionally, 1,112 and 836 dried blood spots from TAS 1 and TAS 2, respectively were tested for antibodies to Wb123, Bm14 and Bm33 by luciferase immunoprecipitation system (LIPS) assay and multiplex bead assay. In 2011, overall prevalence of responses to Wb123, Bm14, and Bm33 was 1.0%, 6.8% and 12.0%, respectively. In 2015, overall prevalence of positive Bm14 and Bm33 responses declined significantly to 3.0% (p<0.001) and 7.8% (p = 0.013), respectively.


Although passing TAS 1 and TAS 2 and an overall decline in the prevalence of antibodies to Bm14 and Bm33 between these surveys suggests decreased exposure and infection among young children, there were persistent responses in some schools. Clustering and persistence of positive antibody responses in schools may be an indication of ongoing transmission. There is a need to better understand the limitations of current antibody tests, but our results suggest that serologic tools can have a role in guiding programmatic decision making.