Mapping of lymphatic filariasis in loiasis areas: A new strategy shows no evidence for <i>Wuchereria bancrofti</i> endemicity in Cameroon

by Samuel Wanji, Mathias Eyong Esum, Abdel Jelil Njouendou, Amuam Andrew Mbeng, Patrick W. Chounna Ndongmo, Raphael Awah Abong, Jerome Fru, Fanny F. Fombad, Gordon Takop Nchanji, Glory Ngongeh, Narcisse V. Ngandjui, Peter Ivo Enyong, Helen Storey, Kurt C. Curtis, Kerstin Fischer, Joseph R. Fauver, Daphne Lew, Charles W. Goss, Peter U. Fischer

Background

Mapping of lymphatic filariasis (LF) caused by Wuchereria bancrofti largely relies on the detection of circulating antigen using ICT cards. Several studies have recently shown that this test can be cross-reactive with sera of subjects heavily infected with Loa loa and thus mapping results in loiasis endemic areas may be inaccurate.

Methodology/Principal findings

In order to develop an LF mapping strategy for areas with high loiasis prevalence, we collected day blood samples from 5,001 subjects residing in 50 villages that make up 6 health districts throughout Cameroon. Antigen testing using Filarial Test Strip (FTS, a novel platform that uses the same reagents as ICT) revealed an overall positivity rate of 1.1% and L. loa microfilaria (Mf) rates of up to 46%. Among the subjects with 0 to 8,000 Mf/ml in day blood, only 0.4% were FTS positive, while 29% of subjects with >8,000 Mf/ml were FTS positive. A Mf density of >8,200 Mf/ml was determined as the cut point at which positive FTS results should be excluded from the analysis. No FTS positive samples were also positive for W. bancrofti antibodies as measured by two different point of care tests that use the Wb123 antigen not found in L. loa. Night blood examination of the FTS positive subjects showed a high prevalence of L. loa Mf with densities up to 12,710 Mf/ml. No W. bancrofti Mf were identified, as confirmed by qPCR. Our results show that high loads of L. loa Mf in day blood are a reliable indicator of FTS positivity, and Wb123 rapid test proved to be relatively specific.

Conclusions/Significance

Our study provides a simple day blood-based algorithm for LF mapping in loiasis areas. The results indicate that many districts that were formerly classified as endemic for LF in Cameroon are non-endemic and do not require mass drug administration for elimination of LF.

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