Potential strategies for strengthening surveillance of lymphatic filariasis in American Samoa after mass drug administration: Reducing 'number needed to test' by targeting older age groups, hotspots, and household members of infected persons.
Under the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), American Samoa conducted mass drug administration (MDA) from 2000-2006. Despite passing Transmission Assessment Surveys (TAS) in 2011/2012 and 2015, American Samoa failed TAS-3 in 2016, with antigen (Ag) prevalence of 0.7% (95%CI 0.3-1.8%) in 6-7 year-olds. A 2016 community survey (Ag prevalence 6.2% (95%CI 4.4-8.5%) in age ≥8 years) confirmed resurgence. Using data from the 2016 survey, this study aims to i) investigate antibody prevalence in TAS-3 and the community survey, ii) identify risk factors associated with being seropositive for Ag and anti-filarial antibodies, and iii) compare the efficiency of different sampling strategies for identifying seropositive persons in the post-MDA setting. Antibody prevalence in TAS-3 (n = 1143) were 1.6% for Bm14 (95%CI 0.9-2.9%), 7.9% for Wb123 (95%CI 6.4-9.6%), and 20.2% for Bm33 (95%CI 16.7-24.3%); and in the community survey (n = 2507), 13.9% for Bm14 (95%CI 11.2-17.2%), 27.9% for Wb123 (95%CI 24.6-31.4%), and 47.3% for Bm33 (95%CI 42.1-52.6%). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for being seropositive for Ag and antibodies. Higher Ag prevalence was found in males (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.01), age ≥18 years (aOR 2.18), residents of Fagali'i (aOR 15.81), and outdoor workers (aOR 2.61). Ag prevalence was 20.7% (95%CI 9.7-53.5%) in households of Ag-positive children identified in TAS-3. We used NNTestav (average number needed to test to identify one positive) to compare the efficiency of the following strategies for identifying persons who were seropositive for Ag and each antibody: i) TAS of 6-7 year-old children, ii) population representative surveys of older age groups, and iii) targeted surveillance of subpopulations at higher risk of being seropositive (older ages, householders of Ag-positive TAS children, and known hotspots). For Ag, NNTestav ranged from 142.5 for TAS, to <5 for households of index children. NNTestav was lower in older ages, and highest for Ag, followed by Bm14, Wb123 and Bm33 antibodies. We propose a multi-stage surveillance strategy, starting with population-representative sampling (e.g. TAS or population representative survey of older ages), followed by strategies that target subpopulations and/or locations with low NNTestav. This approach could potentially improve the efficiency of identifying remaining infected persons and residual hotspots. Surveillance programs should also explore the utility of antibodies as indicators of transmission.
TAS Strengthening in American Samoa
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.