Lau, Colleen; Sheel, Meru; Gass, Katherine; Fuimaono, Saipale; David, Michael C.; Won, Kimberly Y.; Sheridan, Sarah; Graves, Patricia M.
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...[Show more] 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.
Author summary: Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquito bites. Globally, tens of millions are infected, with many disfigured and disabled by severe damage to their lymphatic systems, such as severe swelling of the legs (elephantiasis) or scrotum (hydrocele). The Global Programme to Eliminate LF (GPELF) aims to interrupt disease transmission through mass drug administration (MDA), and to control illness and suffering in affected persons. The World Health Organization recommends conducting Transmission Assessment Surveys (TAS) in school children aged 6 to 7 years, to determine if infection rates have dropped to levels where disease transmission is no longer sustainable. From 2000–2006, American Samoa conducted MDA and made significant progress towards eliminating LF. However, despite passing TAS in 2011/2012 and 2015, surveys in 2016 showed evidence of resurgence. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of anti-filarial antibodies in American Samoa in 2016; identify risk factors for testing positive for antigen, microfilaria and antibodies; and compare the efficiency of different sampling strategies for identifying persons who test positive. The sampling strategies that we compared included testing of 6–7 year-old children, population representative surveys of older age groups, and targeted surveys of high-risk groups such as older people, household members of infected children identified through TAS, and known hotspots. Based on our findings, we recommended that in addition to TAS, strategies that target high-risk populations and hotspots would strengthen surveillance and help countries achieve their goals of LF elimination.