The Right Tool for the Job: Detection of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Areas Co-endemic for Other Helminths

by Maria V. Periago, Renata C. Diniz, Simone A. Pinto, Anna Yakovleva, Rodrigo Correa-Oliveira, David J. Diemert, Jeffrey M. Bethony

Background

Due to the recent increased use of the McMaster (MM) fecal egg counting method for assessing benzimidazole drug efficacy for treating soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections, the aim of the current study was to determine the operational value of including the MM method alongside the Kato-Katz (KK) fecal thick smear to increase the diagnostic sensitivity when STHs are co-endemic with trematode helminths (e.g., Schistosoma mansoni).

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted in school-aged children aged 4-18 years in the northeastern region of the State of Minas Gerais (Brazil), where Necator americanus, Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, and S. mansoni are co-endemic. One fecal sample from each participant was collected and transported to the field laboratory for analysis. Coprological diagnosis was performed on each fecal sample by three different methods: Formalin-Ether Sedimentation (FES), KK and the MM technique. The diagnostic sensitivity and negative predictive value (NPV) of each technique was calculated using the combination of all three techniques as the composite standard. In order to determine the agreement between the three techniques Fleiss´ kappa was used. Both the Cure Rate (CR) and the Fecal Egg Count Reduction (FECR) were calculated using the two quantification techniques (i.e., the MM and KK).

Results

Fecal samples from 1260 children were analyzed. The KK had higher diagnostic sensitivity than the MM for the detection of both A. lumbricoides (KK 97.3%, MM 69.5%) and hookworm (KK 95.1%, MM 80.8%). The CR of a single dose of mebendazole varied significantly between the KK and MM for both A. lumbricoides (p = 0.016) and hookworm (p = 0.000), with lower rates obtained with the KK. On the other hand, the FECR was very similar between both techniques for both A. lumbricoides and hookworm.

Conclusion

The MM did not add any diagnostic value over the KK in areas where both STHs and trematodes were co-endemic. The lower sensitivity of the MM would have an important impact on the administration of selective school-based treatment in this area since if only the MM were used, 36 (13.9%) children diagnosed with A. lumbricoides would have gone untreated.


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Impact of Community Mass Treatment with Azithromycin for Trachoma Elimination on the Prevalence of Yaws

by Michael Marks, Ventis Vahi, Oliver Sokana, Kai-Hua Chi, Elliot Puiahi, Georgina Kilua, Allan Pillay, Tenneth Dalipanda, Christian Bottomley, Anthony W. Solomon, David C. Mabey

Background

Community mass treatment with 30mg/kg azithromycin is central to the new WHO strategy for eradicating yaws. Both yaws and trachoma— which is earmarked for elimination by 2020 using a strategy that includes mass treatment with 20mg/kg azithromycin—are endemic in the Pacific, raising the possibility of an integrated approach to disease control. Community mass treatment with azithromycin for trachoma elimination was conducted in the Solomon Islands in 2014.

Methods

We conducted a study to assess the impact of mass treatment with 20mg/kg azithromycin on yaws. We examined children aged 5-14 years and took blood and lesion samples for yaws diagnosis.

Results

We recruited 897 children, 6 months after mass treatment. There were no cases of active yaws. Serological evidence of current infection was found in 3.6% (95% CI= 2.5-5.0%). This differed significantly between individuals who had and had not received azithromycin (2.8% vs 6.5%, p=0.015); the prevalence of positive serology in 5-14 year-olds had been 21.7% (95% CI=14.6%-30.9%) 6 months prior to mass treatment. Not receiving azithromycin was associated with an odds of 3.9 for infection (p=0.001). National figures showed a 57% reduction in reported cases of yaws following mass treatment.

Discussion

Following a single round of treatment we did not identify any cases of active yaws in a previously endemic population. We found a significant reduction in latent infection. Our data support expansion of the WHO eradication strategy and suggest an integrated approach to the control of yaws and trachoma in the Pacific may be viable.


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Historical Perspective and Risk of Multiple Neglected Tropical Diseases in Coastal Tanzania: Compositional and Contextual Determinants of Disease Risk

by Frederick Ato Armah, Reginald Quansah, Isaac Luginaah, Ratana Chuenpagdee, Herbert Hambati, Gwyn Campbell

Background

In the past decade, research on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has intensified in response to the need to enhance community participation in health delivery, establish monitoring and surveillance systems, and integrate existing disease-specific treatment programs to control overlapping NTD burdens and detrimental effects. In this paper, we evaluated the geographical distribution of NTDs in coastal Tanzania.

Methods and Findings

We also assessed the collective (compositional and contextual) factors that currently determine risks to multiple NTDs using a cross sectional survey of 1253 individuals in coastal Tanzania. The results show that the effect size in decreasing order of magnitude for non-binary predictors of NTD risks is as follows: NTD comorbidities > poverty > educational attainment > self-reported household quality of life > ethnicity. The multivariate analysis explained 95% of the variance in the relationship between NTD risks and the theoretically-relevant covariates. Compositional (biosocial and sociocultural) factors explained more variance at the neighbourhood level than at the regional level, whereas contextual factors, such as access to health services and household quality, in districts explained a large proportion of variance at the regional level but individually had modest statistical significance, demonstrating the complex interactions between compositional and contextual factors in generating NTD risks.

Conclusions

NTD risks were inequitably distributed over geographic space, which has several important policy implications. First, it suggests that localities of high burden of NTDs are likely to diminish within statistical averages at higher (regional or national) levels. Second, it indicates that curative or preventive interventions will become more efficient provided they can be focused on the localities, particularly as populations in these localities are likely to be burdened by several NTDs simultaneously, further increasing the imperative of multi-disease interventions.


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Isometric Scaling in Developing Long Bones Is Achieved by an Optimal Epiphyseal Growth Balance

by Tomer Stern, Rona Aviram, Chagai Rot, Tal Galili, Amnon Sharir, Noga Kalish Achrai, Yosi Keller, Ron Shahar, Elazar Zelzer

One of the major challenges that developing organs face is scaling, that is, the adjustment of physical proportions during the massive increase in size. Although organ scaling is fundamental for development and function, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate it. Bone superstructures are projections that typically serve for tendon and ligament insertion or articulation and, therefore, their position along the bone is crucial for musculoskeletal functionality. As bones are rigid structures that elongate only from their ends, it is unclear how superstructure positions are regulated during growth to end up in the right locations. Here, we document the process of longitudinal scaling in developing mouse long bones and uncover the mechanism that regulates it. To that end, we performed a computational analysis of hundreds of three-dimensional micro-CT images, using a newly developed method for recovering the morphogenetic sequence of developing bones. Strikingly, analysis revealed that the relative position of all superstructures along the bone is highly preserved during more than a 5-fold increase in length, indicating isometric scaling. It has been suggested that during development, bone superstructures are continuously reconstructed and relocated along the shaft, a process known as drift. Surprisingly, our results showed that most superstructures did not drift at all. Instead, we identified a novel mechanism for bone scaling, whereby each bone exhibits a specific and unique balance between proximal and distal growth rates, which accurately maintains the relative position of its superstructures. Moreover, we show mathematically that this mechanism minimizes the cumulative drift of all superstructures, thereby optimizing the scaling process. Our study reveals a general mechanism for the scaling of developing bones. More broadly, these findings suggest an evolutionary mechanism that facilitates variability in bone morphology by controlling the activity of individual epiphyseal plates.
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The Cost-Effectiveness of Low-Cost Essential Antihypertensive Medicines for Hypertension Control in China: A Modelling Study

by Dongfeng Gu, Jiang He, Pamela G. Coxson, Petra W. Rasmussen, Chen Huang, Anusorn Thanataveerat, Keane Y. Tzong, Juyang Xiong, Miao Wang, Dong Zhao, Lee Goldman, Andrew E. Moran

Background

Hypertension is China’s leading cardiovascular disease risk factor. Improved hypertension control in China would result in result in enormous health gains in the world’s largest population. A computer simulation model projected the cost-effectiveness of hypertension treatment in Chinese adults, assuming a range of essential medicines list drug costs.

Methods and Findings

The Cardiovascular Disease Policy Model-China, a Markov-style computer simulation model, simulated hypertension screening, essential medicines program implementation, hypertension control program administration, drug treatment and monitoring costs, disease-related costs, and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained by preventing cardiovascular disease or lost because of drug side effects in untreated hypertensive adults aged 35–84 y over 2015–2025. Cost-effectiveness was assessed in cardiovascular disease patients (secondary prevention) and for two blood pressure ranges in primary prevention (stage one, 140–159/90–99 mm Hg; stage two, ≥160/≥100 mm Hg). Treatment of isolated systolic hypertension and combined systolic and diastolic hypertension were modeled as a reduction in systolic blood pressure; treatment of isolated diastolic hypertension was modeled as a reduction in diastolic blood pressure. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses explored ranges of antihypertensive drug effectiveness and costs, monitoring frequency, medication adherence, side effect severity, background hypertension prevalence, antihypertensive medication treatment, case fatality, incidence and prevalence, and cardiovascular disease treatment costs. Median antihypertensive costs from Shanghai and Yunnan province were entered into the model in order to estimate the effects of very low and high drug prices. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios less than the per capita gross domestic product of China (11,900 international dollars [Int$] in 2015) were considered cost-effective. Treating hypertensive adults with prior cardiovascular disease for secondary prevention was projected to be cost saving in the main simulation and 100% of probabilistic simulation results. Treating all hypertension for primary and secondary prevention would prevent about 800,000 cardiovascular disease events annually (95% uncertainty interval, 0.6 to 1.0 million) and was borderline cost-effective incremental to treating only cardiovascular disease and stage two patients (2015 Int$13,000 per QALY gained [95% uncertainty interval, Int$10,000 to Int$18,000]). Of all one-way sensitivity analyses, assuming adherence to taking medications as low as 25%, high Shanghai drug costs, or low medication efficacy led to the most unfavorable results (treating all hypertension, about Int$47,000, Int$37,000, and Int$27,000 per QALY were gained, respectively). The strengths of this study were the use of a recent Chinese national health survey, vital statistics, health care costs, and cohort study outcomes data as model inputs and reliance on clinical-trial-based estimates of coronary heart disease and stroke risk reduction due to antihypertensive medication treatment. The limitations of the study were the use of several sources of data, limited clinical trial evidence for medication effectiveness and harms in the youngest and oldest age groups, lack of information about geographic and ethnic subgroups, lack of specific information about indirect costs borne by patients, and uncertainty about the future epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases in China.

Conclusions

Expanded hypertension treatment has the potential to prevent about 800,000 cardiovascular disease events annually and be borderline cost-effective in China, provided low-cost essential antihypertensive medicines programs can be implemented.


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