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Concept: Tropical disease


Lymphatic filariasis (LF)-related disability affects 40 million people globally, making LF the leading cause of physical disability in the world. Despite this, there is limited research into how the impacts of LF-related disability are best measured. This article identifies the tools currently being used to measure LF-related disability and reviews their applicability against the known impacts of LF. The findings from the review show that the generic disability tools currently used by LF programs fail to measure the majority of known impacts of LF-related disability. The findings from the review support the development of an LF-specific disability measurement tool and raise doubt about the suitability of generic disability tools to assess disability related to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) globally.

Concepts: Systems of measurement, Test method, Psychometrics, Tropical diseases, Measurement, Tropical disease, Filariasis, Neglected diseases


Generalist microorganisms are the agents of many emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), but their natural life cycles are difficult to predict due to the multiplicity of potential hosts and environmental reservoirs. Among 250 known human EIDs, many have been traced to tropical rain forests and specifically freshwater aquatic systems, which act as an interface between microbe-rich sediments or substrates and terrestrial habitats. Along with the rapid urbanization of developing countries, population encroachment, deforestation, and land-use modifications are expected to increase the risk of EID outbreaks. We show that the freshwater food-web collapse driven by land-use change has a nonlinear effect on the abundance of preferential hosts of a generalist bacterial pathogen, Mycobacterium ulcerans. This leads to an increase of the pathogen within systems at certain levels of environmental disturbance. The complex link between aquatic, terrestrial, and EID processes highlights the potential importance of species community composition and structure and species life history traits in disease risk estimation and mapping. Mechanisms such as the one shown here are also central in predicting how human-induced environmental change, for example, deforestation and changes in land use, may drive emergence.

Concepts: Tropical disease, Rainforest, Infectious diseases, Tropical rainforest, Disease, Infection, Infectious disease, Microbiology


The global programmes to eliminate both malaria and lymphatic filariasis are facing operational and technical challenges. Available data show that the use of treated or untreated bednets and indoor residual spraying for malaria control concomitantly reduced filarial rates. In turn, mass drug administration campaigns against lymphatic filariasis can be combined with the distribution of insecticide-treated bednets. Combining these disease control efforts could lead to more efficient use of resources, more accurate attribution of effects, and more effective control of both diseases. Systematic integration requires coordination at all levels, mapping of coendemic areas, and comprehensive monitoring and evaluation.

Concepts: Integral, Doxycycline, Tropical disease, Tropical diseases, Vector, Filariasis, Malaria


The potential use of ivermectin as an additional vector control tool is receiving increased attention from the malaria elimination community, driven by the increased importance of outdoor/residual malaria transmission and the threat of insecticide resistance where vector tools have been scaled-up. This report summarizes the emerging evidence presented at a side meeting on “Ivermectin for malaria elimination: current status and future directions” at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans on November 4, 2014. One outcome was the creation of the “Ivermectin Research for Malaria Elimination Network” whose main goal is to establish a common research agenda to generate the evidence base on whether ivermectin-based strategies should be added to the emerging arsenal to interrupt malaria transmission.

Concepts: Agenda, Vector graphics, Systematic review, Tool, Tropical disease, Filariasis, Pesticide, Malaria


Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is among the 10 neglected tropical diseases targeted for control or elimination by 2020. For LF elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed a comprehensive strategy including (i) interruption of LF transmission through large-scale annual treatment (or mass drug administration (MDA)) of all eligible individuals in endemic areas, and (ii) alleviation of LF-associated suffering through morbidity management and disability prevention. In Cameroon, once-yearly mass administration of ivermectin and albendazole has been implemented since 2008. The aim of this study was to assess progress towards the elimination goal, looking specifically at the impact of six rounds of MDA on LF transmission in northern Cameroon.

Concepts: Infectious disease, World Health Organization, Tropical disease, Epidemiology, Tropical diseases, Neglected diseases, Filariasis, Malaria


The activities of the Global Programme for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis have been in operation since the year 2000, with Mass Drug Administration (MDA) undertaken yearly in disease endemic communities. Information collected during MDA-such as population demographics, age, sex, drugs used and remaining, and therapeutic and geographic coverage-can be used to assess the quality of the data reported. To assist country programmes in evaluating the information reported, the WHO, in collaboration with NTD partners, including ENVISION/RTI, developed an NTD Data Quality Assessment (DQA) tool, for use by programmes. This study was undertaken to evaluate the tool and assess the quality of data reported in some endemic communities in Ghana.

Concepts: Tropical disease, Tropical diseases, Infectious disease, Filariasis, Neglected diseases, Computer program, Malaria, Evaluation


Lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis are two important neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that cause severe disability. Control efforts are hindered by the lack of a safe macrofilaricidal drug. Targeting the Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts in these parasites with doxycycline leads to a macrofilaricidal outcome, but protracted treatment regimens and contraindications restrict its widespread implementation. The Anti-Wolbachia consortium aims to develop improved anti-Wolbachia drugs to overcome these barriers. We describe the first screening of a large, diverse compound library against Wolbachia. This whole-organism screen, streamlined to reduce bottlenecks, produced a hit rate of 0.5%. Chemoinformatic analysis of the top 50 hits led to the identification of six structurally diverse chemotypes, the disclosure of which could offer interesting avenues of investigation to other researchers active in this field. An example of hit-to-lead optimization is described to further demonstrate the potential of developing these high-quality hit series as safe, efficacious, and selective anti-Wolbachia macrofilaricides.

Concepts: Wolbachia, Tropical disease, Elephantiasis, Malaria, Doxycycline, Tropical diseases, Filariasis, Neglected diseases


The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2015-2020 Global Strategy on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) encourages integration, whilst maintaining existing structured NTD investments, and acceleration towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. Accordingly, SDG-associated and WASH-NTD indicators have been developed, commencing important intersectoral dialogue, alongside opportunities for future disease-specific refinements. The rationale for soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH)- and schistosomiasis-specific WASH considerations, and a traffic-light figure, are presented here to indicate where current international definitions may, or may not, suffice. Certain unique aspects in control dynamics and parasitic lifecycles, however, necessitate additional implementation research with more appropriate measurement indicators developed to record programmatic interventions and to define strategic priorities more effectively.

Concepts: Tropical disease, Tropical diseases, Millennium Development Goals, United States, Hygiene, Neglected diseases, World Health Organization, Schistosomiasis


Lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and trachoma represent the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). They can be controlled or eliminated by means of safe and cost-effective interventions delivered through programs of Mass Drug Administration (MDA)-also named Preventive Chemotherapy (PCT). The WHO defined targets for NTD control/elimination by 2020, reinforced by the 2012 London Declaration, which, if achieved, would result in dramatic health gains. We estimated the potential economic benefit of achieving these targets, focusing specifically on productivity and out-of-pocket payments.

Concepts: Parasitic diseases, Epidemiology, Schistosomiasis, Malaria, Filariasis, Tropical disease, Tropical diseases, Neglected diseases


Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are generally assumed to be concentrated in poor populations, but evidence on this remains scattered. We describe within-country socioeconomic inequalities in nine NTDs listed in the London Declaration for intensified control and/or elimination: lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH), trachoma, Chagas' disease, human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), leprosy, and visceral leishmaniasis (VL).

Concepts: Insect-borne diseases, Infectious disease, African trypanosomiasis, Vector, Parasitic diseases, Tropical disease, Tropical diseases, Neglected diseases