Uncertainty surrounding projections of the long-term impact of ivermectin treatment on human onchocerciasis.
ABSTRACT: Recent studies in Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal have indicated that annual (or biannual) ivermectin distribution may lead to local elimination of human onchocerciasis in certain African foci. Modelling-based projections have been used to estimate the required duration of ivermectin distribution to reach elimination. A crucial assumption has been that microfilarial production by Onchocerca volvulus is reduced irreversibly by 30-35% with each (annual) ivermectin round. However, other modelling-based analyses suggest that ivermectin may not have such a cumulative effect. Uncertainty in this (biological) and other (programmatic) assumptions would affect projected outcomes of long-term ivermectin treatment.We modify a deterministic age- and sex-structured onchocerciasis transmission model, parameterised for savannah O. volvulus-Simulium damnosum, to explore the impact of assumptions regarding the effect of ivermectin on worm fertility and the patterns of treatment coverage compliance, and frequency on projections of parasitological outcomes due to long-term, mass ivermectin administration in hyperendemic areas. The projected impact of ivermectin distribution on onchocerciasis and the benefits of switching from annual to biannual distribution are strongly dependent on assumptions regarding the drug's effect on worm fertility and on treatment compliance. If ivermectin does not have a cumulative impact on microfilarial production, elimination of onchocerciasis in hyperendemic areas may not be feasible with annual ivermectin distribution.There is substantial (biological and programmatic) uncertainty surrounding modelling projections of onchocerciasis elimination. These uncertainties need to be acknowledged for mathematical models to inform control policy reliably. Further research is needed to elucidate the effect of ivermectin on O. volvulus reproductive biology and quantify the patterns of coverage and compliance in treated communities.
Project description:The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) has refocused its goals on the elimination of infection where possible, seemingly achievable by 15-17 years of annual mass distribution of ivermectin in some African foci. Previously, APOC had focused on the elimination of onchocerciasis as a public health problem. Timeframes have been set by the World Health Organization, the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases and the World Bank to achieve these goals by 2020-2025.A novel mathematical model of the dynamics of onchocercal disease is presented which links documented associations between Onchocerca volvulus infection and the prevalence and incidence of morbidity and mortality to model outputs from our host age- and sex-structured onchocerciasis transmission framework (EpiOncho). The model is calibrated for African savannah settings, and used to assess the impact of long-term annual mass administration of ivermectin on infection and ocular and skin disease and to explore how this depends on epidemiological and programmatic variables.Current onchocerciasis disease projections, which do not account for excess mortality of sighted individuals with heavy microfilarial loads, underestimate disease burden. Long-term annual ivermectin treatment is highly effective at reducing both the morbidity and mortality associated with onchocerciasis, and this result is not greatly influenced by treatment coverage and compliance. By contrast, impact on microfilarial prevalence and intensity is highly dependent on baseline endemicity, treatment coverage and systematic non-compliance.The goals of eliminating morbidity and infection with ivermectin alone are distinctly influenced by epidemiological and programmatic factors. Whilst the former goal is most certainly achievable, reaching the latter will strongly depend on initial endemicity (the higher the endemicity, the greater the magnitude of inter-treatment transmission), advising caution when generalising the applicability of successful elimination outcomes to other areas. The proportion of systematic non-compliers will become far more influential in terms of overall success in achieving elimination goals.
Project description:Mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin is the cornerstone of efforts to eliminate human onchocerciasis by 2020 or 2025. The feasibility of elimination crucially depends on the effects of multiple ivermectin doses on Onchocerca volvulus. A single ivermectin (standard) dose clears the skin-dwelling microfilarial progeny of adult worms (macrofilariae) and temporarily impedes the release of such progeny by female macrofilariae, but a macrofilaricidal effect has been deemed minimal. Multiple doses of ivermectin may cumulatively and permanently reduce the fertility and shorten the lifespan of adult females. However, rigorous quantification of these effects necessitates interrogating longitudinal data on macrofilariae with suitably powerful analytical techniques.Using a novel mathematical modeling approach, we analyzed, at an individual participant level, longitudinal data on viability and fertility of female worms from the single most comprehensive multiple-dose clinical trial of ivermectin, comparing 3-monthly with annual treatments administered for 3 years in Cameroon.Multiple doses of ivermectin have a partial macrofilaricidal and a modest permanent sterilizing effect after 4 or more consecutive treatments, even at routine MDA doses (150 µg/kg) and frequencies (annual). The life expectancy of adult O. volvulus is reduced by approximately 50% and 70% after 3 years of annual or 3-monthly (quarterly) exposures to ivermectin.Our quantification of macrofilaricidal and sterilizing effects of ivermectin should be incorporated into transmission models to inform onchocerciasis elimination efforts in Africa and residual foci in Latin America. It also provides a framework to assess macrofilaricidal candidate drugs currently under development.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin for onchocerciasis has been disrupted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Mathematical modelling can help predict how missed/delayed MDA will affect short-term epidemiological trends and elimination prospects by 2030.<h4>Methods</h4>Two onchocerciasis transmission models (EPIONCHO-IBM and ONCHOSIM) are used to simulate microfilarial prevalence trends, elimination probabilities and age profiles of Onchocerca volvulus microfilarial prevalence and intensity for different treatment histories and transmission settings, assuming no interruption, a 1-y (2020) interruption or a 2-y (2020-2021) interruption. Biannual MDA or increased coverage upon MDA resumption are investigated as remedial strategies.<h4>Results</h4>Programmes with shorter MDA histories and settings with high pre-intervention endemicity will be the most affected. Biannual MDA is more effective than increasing coverage for mitigating COVID-19's impact on MDA. Programmes that had already switched to biannual MDA should be minimally affected. In high-transmission settings with short treatment history, a 2-y interruption could lead to increased microfilarial load in children (EPIONCHO-IBM) and adults (ONCHOSIM).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Programmes with shorter (annual MDA) treatment histories should be prioritised for remedial biannual MDA. Increases in microfilarial load could have short- and long-term morbidity and mortality repercussions. These results can guide decision-making to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on onchocerciasis elimination.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Currently, the predominant onchocerciasis control strategy in Africa is annual mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin. However, there is a consensus among the global health community, supported by mathematical modelling, that onchocerciasis in Africa will not be eliminated within proposed time frameworks in all endemic foci with only annual MDA, and novel and alternative strategies are urgently needed. Furthermore, use of MDA with ivermectin is already compromised in large areas of central Africa co-endemic with Loa loa, and there are areas where suboptimal or atypical responses to ivermectin have been documented. An onchocerciasis vaccine would be highly advantageous in these areas. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We used a previously developed onchocerciasis transmission model (EPIONCHO) to investigate the impact of vaccination in areas where loiasis and onchocerciasis are co-endemic and ivermectin is contraindicated. We also explore the potential influence of a vaccination programme on infection resurgence in areas where local elimination has been successfully achieved. Based on the age range included in the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), the vaccine was assumed to target 1 to 5 year olds. Our modelling results indicate that the deployment of an onchocerciasis vaccine would have a beneficial impact in onchocerciasis-loiasis co-endemic areas, markedly reducing microfilarial load in the young (under 20 yr) age groups. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:An onchocerciasis prophylactic vaccine would reduce the onchocerciasis disease burden in populations where ivermectin cannot be administered safely. Moreover, a vaccine could substantially decrease the chance of re-emergence of Onchocerca volvulus infection in areas where it is deemed that MDA with ivermectin can be stopped. Therefore, a vaccine would protect the substantial investments made by present and past onchocerciasis control programmes, decreasing the chance of disease recrudescence and offering an important additional tool to mitigate the potentially devastating impact of emerging ivermectin resistance.
Project description:Several African countries have adopted a biannual ivermectin distribution strategy in some foci to control and eliminate onchocerciasis. In 2010, the Ghana Health Service started biannual distribution to combat transmission hotspots and suboptimal responses to treatment. We assessed the epidemiological impact of the first 3 years of this strategy and quantified responses to ivermectin over 2 consecutive rounds of treatment in 10 sentinel communities.We evaluated Onchocerca volvulus community microfilarial intensity and prevalence in persons aged ?20 years before the first, second, and fifth (or sixth) biannual treatment rounds using skin snip data from 956 participants. We used longitudinal regression modeling to estimate rates of microfilarial repopulation of the skin in a cohort of 217 participants who were followed up over the first 2 rounds of biannual treatment.Biannual treatment has had a positive impact, with substantial reductions in infection intensity after 4 or 5 rounds in most communities. We identified 3 communities-all having been previously recognized as responding suboptimally to ivermectin-with statistically significantly high microfilarial repopulation rates. We did not find any clear association between microfilarial repopulation rate and the number of years of prior intervention, coverage, or the community level of infection.The strategy of biannual ivermectin treatment in Ghana has reduced O. volvulus microfilarial intensity and prevalence, but suboptimal responses to treatment remain evident in a number of previously and consistently implicated communities. Whether increasing the frequency of treatment will be sufficient to meet the World Health Organization's 2020 elimination goals remains uncertain.
Project description:Spurred by success in several foci, onchocerciasis control policy in Africa has shifted from morbidity control to elimination of infection. Clinical trials have demonstrated that moxidectin is substantially more efficacious than ivermectin in effecting sustained reductions in skin microfilarial load and, therefore, may accelerate progress towards elimination. We compare the potential cost-effectiveness of annual moxidectin with annual and biannual ivermectin treatment.Data from the first clinical study of moxidectin were used to parameterise the onchocerciasis transmission model EPIONCHO to investigate, for different epidemiological and programmatic scenarios in African savannah settings, the number of years and in-country costs necessary to reach the operational thresholds for cessation of treatment, comparing annual and biannual ivermectin with annual moxidectin treatment.Annual moxidectin and biannual ivermectin treatment would achieve similar reductions in programme duration relative to annual ivermectin treatment. Unlike biannual ivermectin treatment, annual moxidectin treatment would not incur a considerable increase in programmatic costs and, therefore, would generate sizeable in-country cost savings (assuming the drug is donated). Furthermore, the impact of moxidectin, unlike ivermectin, was not substantively influenced by the timing of treatment relative to seasonal patterns of transmission.Moxidectin is a promising new drug for the control and elimination of onchocerciasis. It has high programmatic value particularly when resource limitation prevents a biannual treatment strategy, or optimal timing of treatment relative to peak transmission season is not feasible.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Ivermectin-based preventive chemotherapy (PC) is distributed annually to all at-risk populations eligible for ivermectin treatment to control and/or eliminate onchocerciasis. Information on the impact of mass ivermectin administration on onchocerciasis transmission is scanty, and it is tricky to appreciate the progress towards elimination and engage corrective measures. To fill that gap in the Centre Region in Cameroon, the current onchocerciasis endemicity level in the Ndikinimeki Health District after about two decades of mass treatments was assessed. METHODS:A cluster-based cross-sectional survey was carried out in the Ndikinimeki Health District and all volunteers aged ? 5 years were (i) interviewed on their compliance to ivermectin over the past five years and (ii) underwent clinical (nodule palpation and visual search for onchocercal lesions) and parasitological examinations (skin snip) for onchocerciasis. RESULTS:The overall Onchocerca volvulus prevalence was 7.0% (95% CI: 5.2-9.3%). The prevalence of the disease was significantly higher in the communities Kiboum 1 and Kiboum 2 compared to the other communities (highest prevalence in Makénéné Town Water: 8.5%; 95% CI: 2.3-20.4%) (?2 = 51.314, df = 11, P = 0.0001). The proportion of systematic non-compliers to ivermectin was 23.3% (95% CI: 19.9-27.1%) among individuals interviewed. In the sentinel sites (Kiboum communities), onchocerciasis prevalence decreased from 95.2% (95% CI: 88.3-98.1%) to 23.7% (95% CI: 14.7-36.0%). CONCLUSIONS:This study has revealed that the Ndikinimeki Health District is hypo-endemic for onchocerciasis after about two decades of preventive chemotherapy. However, transmission is ongoing, with potential hotspots in the Kiboum 1 and Kiboum 2 communities, which are known as first-line communities (closest to the breeding sites of the vector). Alternative or complementary strategies to annual ivermectin appear compulsory to accelerate the momentum towards onchocerciasis elimination.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mass treatment with ivermectin is a proven strategy for controlling onchocerciasis as a public health problem, but it is not known if it can also interrupt transmission and eliminate the parasite in endemic foci in Africa where vectors are highly efficient. A longitudinal study was undertaken in three hyperendemic foci in Mali and Senegal with 15 to 17 years of annual or six-monthly ivermectin treatment in order to assess residual levels of infection and transmission and test whether ivermectin treatment could be safely stopped in the study areas. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Skin snip surveys were undertaken in 126 villages, and 17,801 people were examined. The prevalence of microfilaridermia was <1% in all three foci. A total of 157,500 blackflies were collected and analyzed for the presence of Onchocerca volvulus larvae using a specific DNA probe, and vector infectivity rates were all below 0.5 infective flies per 1,000 flies. Except for a subsection of one focus, all infection and transmission indicators were below postulated thresholds for elimination. Treatment was therefore stopped in test areas of 5 to 8 villages in each focus. Evaluations 16 to 22 months after the last treatment in the test areas involved examination of 2,283 people using the skin snip method and a DEC patch test, and analysis of 123,000 black flies. No infected persons and no infected blackflies were detected in the test areas, and vector infectivity rates in other catching points were <0.2 infective flies per 1,000. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:This study has provided the first empirical evidence that elimination of onchocerciasis with ivermectin treatment is feasible in some endemic foci in Africa. Although further studies are needed to determine to what extent these findings can be extrapolated to other endemic areas in Africa, the principle of elimination has been established. The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control has adopted an additional objective to assess progress towards elimination endpoints in all onchocerciasis control projects and to guide countries on cessation of treatment where feasible.
Project description:Recently, there has been a shift in onchocerciasis control policy, changing from prevention of morbidity toward elimination of infection. Switching from annual to biannual ivermectin distribution may accelerate progress toward the elimination goals. However, the settings where this strategy would be cost effective in Africa have not been described.An onchocerciasis transmission framework (EpiOncho) was coupled to a disease model in order to explore the impact on disability-adjusted life years averted, program cost, and program duration of biannual ivermectin treatment in different epidemiological and programmatic scenarios in African savannah.While biannual treatment yields only small additional health gains, its benefit is pronounced in the context of the elimination goals, shortening the time frames for and increasing the feasibility of reaching the proposed operational thresholds for stopping treatment. In settings with high precontrol endemicity (and/or poor coverage and compliance), it may not be possible to reach such thresholds even within 50 years of annual ivermectin, requiring adoption of biannual treatment. Our projections highlight the crucial role played by coverage and compliance in achieving the elimination goals.Biannual ivermectin treatment improves the chances of reaching the 2020/2025 elimination goals, potentially generating programmatic cost savings in settings with high precontrol endemicity. However, its benefit and cost are highly sensitive to levels of systematic noncompliance and, in many settings, it will lead to an increase in costs. Furthermore, it may not always be feasible to implement biannual treatment, particularly in hard-to-reach populations. This highlights the continued need for a macrofilaricide.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Great strides have been made toward onchocerciasis elimination by mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin. Focusing on MDA-eligible areas, we investigated where the elimination goal can be achieved by 2025 by continuation of current practice (annual MDA with ivermectin) and where intensification or additional vector control is required. We did not consider areas hypoendemic for onchocerciasis with loiasis coendemicity where MDA is contraindicated.<h4>Methods</h4>We used 2 previously published mathematical models, ONCHOSIM and EPIONCHO, to simulate future trends in microfilarial prevalence for 80 different settings (defined by precontrol endemicity and past MDA frequency and coverage) under different future treatment scenarios (annual, biannual, or quarterly MDA with different treatment coverage through 2025, with or without vector control strategies), assessing for each strategy whether it eventually leads to elimination.<h4>Results</h4>Areas with 40%-50% precontrol microfilarial prevalence and ?10 years of annual MDA may achieve elimination with a further 7 years of annual MDA, if not achieved already, according to both models. For most areas with 70%-80% precontrol prevalence, ONCHOSIM predicts that either annual or biannual MDA is sufficient to achieve elimination by 2025, whereas EPIONCHO predicts that elimination will not be achieved even with complementary vector control.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Whether elimination will be reached by 2025 depends on precontrol endemicity, control history, and strategies chosen from now until 2025. Biannual or quarterly MDA will accelerate progress toward elimination but cannot guarantee it by 2025 in high-endemicity areas. Long-term concomitant MDA and vector control for high-endemicity areas might be useful.