Does Increasing Treatment Frequency Address Suboptimal Responses to Ivermectin for the Control and Elimination of River Blindness?
ABSTRACT: 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: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:BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Ivermectin has been the keystone of onchocerciasis control for the last 25 years. Sub-optimal responses to the drug have been reported in Ghanaian communities under long-term treatment. We assessed, in two Cameroonian foci, whether the microfilaricidal and/or embryostatic effects of ivermectin on Onchocerca volvulus have been altered after several years of drug pressure. METHODS: We compared the dynamics of O. volvulus skin microfilarial densities after ivermectin treatment in two cohorts with contrasting exposure to this drug: one received repeated treatment for 13 years whereas the other had no history of large-scale treatments (referred to as controls). Microfilarial densities were assessed 15, 80 and 180 days after ivermectin in 122 multiply treated and 127 ivermectin-naïve individuals. Comparisons were adjusted for individual factors related to microfilarial density: age and number of nodules. FINDINGS: Two weeks post ivermectin, microfilarial density dropped equally (98% reduction) in the ivermectin-naïve and multiply treated groups. Between 15 and 180 days post ivermectin, the proportion of individuals with skin microfilariae doubled (from 30.8% to 67.8%) in controls and quadrupled (from 19.8% to 76.9%) in multiply treated individuals but the mean densities remained low in both sites. In fact, between 15 and 80 days, the repopulation rate was significantly higher in the multiply treated individuals than in the controls but no such difference was demonstrated when extending the follow-up to 180 days. The repopulation rate by microfilariae was associated with host factors: negatively with age and positively with the number of nodules. CONCLUSION: These observations may indicate that the worms from the multi-treated area recover mf productivity earlier but would be less productive than the worms from the ivermectin-naïve area between 80 and 180 days after ivermectin. Moreover, they do not support the operation of a strong cumulative effect of repeated treatments on the fecundity of female worms as previously described.
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:<h4>Background</h4>Ivermectin is an excellent microfilaricide against Onchocerca volvulus. However, in some regions, long term use of ivermectin has resulted in sub-optimal responses to the treatment. More data to properly document the phenomenon in various contexts of ivermectin mass drug administration (IVM-MDA) is needed. Also, there is a need to accurately monitor a possible repopulation of skin by microfilariae following treatment. Skin snip microscopy is known to have a low sensitivity in individuals with light infections, which can be the case following treatment. This study was designed with two complementary objectives: (i) to assess the susceptibility of O. volvulus microfilariae to ivermectin in two areas undergoing IVM-MDA for different lengths of time, and (ii) to document the repopulation of skin by the O. volvulus microfilariae following treatment, using 3 independent diagnostic techniques.<h4>Method</h4>Identified microfilaridermic individuals were treated with ivermectin and re-examined after 1, 3, and 6?months using microscopy, actin real-time PCR (actin-qPCR) and O-150 LAMP assays. Susceptibility to ivermectin and trends in detecting reappearance of skin microfilariae were determined using three techniques. Microscopy was used as an imperfect gold standard to determine the performance of actin-qPCR and LAMP.<h4>Results</h4>In Bafia with over 20?years of IVM-MDA, 11/51 (21.6%) direct observe treated microfilaridemic participants were still positive for skin microfilariae after 1?month. In Melong, with 10?years of IVM-MDA, 2/29 (6.9%) treated participants were still positive. The microfilarial density reduction per skin biopsy within one month following treatment was significantly lower in participants from Bafia. In both study sites, the molecular techniques detected higher proportions of infected individuals than microscopy at all monitoring time points. LAMP demonstrated the highest levels of sensitivity and real-time PCR was found to have the highest specificity.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Patterns in skin mirofilariae clearance and repopulation were established. O. volvulus worms from Bafia with higher number of annual MDA displayed a lower clearance and higher repopulation rate after treatment with ivermectin. Molecular assays displayed higher sensitivity in monitoring O. volvulus microfilaridemia within six months following treatment.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Loiasis is a filarial infection endemic in the rainforest zone of west and central Africa particularly in Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Repeated treatments with ivermectin have been delivered using the annual community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) approach for several years to control onchocerciasis in some Loa loa-Onchocerca volvulus co-endemic areas. The impact of CDTI on loiasis parasitological indicators is not known. We, therefore, designed this cross sectional study to explore the effects of several rounds of CDTI on parasitological indicators of loiasis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:The study was conducted in the East, Northwest and Southwest 2 CDTI projects of Cameroon. Individuals who consented to participate were interviewed for ivermectin treatment history and enrolled for parasitological screening using thick smears. Ivermectin treatment history was correlated with loiasis prevalence/intensity. A total of 3,684 individuals were recruited from 36 communities of the 3 CDTI projects and 900 individuals from 9 villages in a non-CDTI district. In the East, loiasis prevalence was 29.3% (range = 24.2%-34.6%) in the non-CDTI district but 16.0% (3.3%-26.6%) in the CDTI district with 10 ivermectin rounds (there were no baseline data for the latter). In the Northwest and Southwest 2 districts, reductions from 30.5% to 17.9% (after 9 ivermectin rounds) but from 8.1% to 7.8% (not significantly different after 14 rounds) were registered post CDTI, respectively. Similar trends in infection intensity were observed in all sites. There was a negative relationship between adherence to ivermectin treatment and prevalence/intensity of infection in all sites. None of the children (aged 10-14 years) examined in the East CDTI project harboured high (8,000-30,000 mf/ml) or very high (>30,000 mf/ml) microfilarial loads. Individuals who had taken >5 ivermectin treatments were 2.1 times more likely to present with no microfilaraemia than those with less treatments. CONCLUSION:In areas where onchocerciasis and loiasis are co-endemic, CDTI reduces the number of, and microfilaraemia in L. loa-infected individuals, and this, in turn, will help to prevent non-neurological and neurological complications post-ivermectin treatment among CDTI adherents.
Project description:Ivermectin (IVM) has been used in Ghana for over two decades for onchocerciasis control. In recent years there have been reports of persistent microfilaridermias despite multiple treatments. This has necessitated a reexamination of its microfilaricidal and suppressive effects on reproduction in the adult female Onchocerca volvulus. In an initial study, we demonstrated the continued potent microfilaricidal effect of IVM. However, we also found communities in which the skin microfilarial repopulation rates at days 90 and 180 were much higher than expected. In this follow up study we have investigated the reproductive response of female worms to multiple treatments with IVM.The parasitological responses to IVM in two hundred and sixty-eight microfilaridermic subjects from nine communities that had received 10 to 19 annual doses of IVM treatment and one pre-study IVM-naïve community were followed. Skin snips were taken 364 days after the initial IVM treatment during the study to determine the microfilaria (mf) recovery rate. Nodules were excised and skin snips taken 90 days following a second study IVM treatment. Nodule and worm density and the reproductive status of female worms were determined. On the basis of skin mf repopulation and skin mf recovery rates we defined three categories of response--good, intermediate and poor--and also determined that approximately 25% of subjects in the study carried adult female worms that responded suboptimally to IVM. Stratification of the female worms by morphological age and microfilarial content showed that almost 90% of the worms were older or middle aged and that most of the mf were produced by the middle aged and older worms previously exposed to multiple treatments with little contribution from young worms derived from ongoing transmission.The results confirm that in some communities adult female worms were non-responsive or resistant to the anti-fecundity effects of multiple treatments with IVM. A scheme of the varied responses of the adult female worm to multiple treatments is proposed.
Project description:Identification of drug resistance before it becomes a public health concern requires a clear distinction between what constitutes a normal and a suboptimal treatment response. A novel method of analyzing drug efficacy studies in human helminthiases is proposed and used to investigate recent claims of atypical responses to ivermectin in the treatment of River Blindness. The variability in the rate at which Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae repopulate host's skin following ivermectin treatment is quantified using an individual-based onchocerciasis mathematical model. The model estimates a single skin repopulation rate for every host sampled, allowing reports of suboptimal responses to be statistically compared with responses from populations with no prior exposure to ivermectin. Statistically faster rates of skin repopulation were observed in 3 Ghanaian villages (treated 12-17 times), despite the wide variability in repopulation rates observed in ivermectin-naïve populations. Another village previously thought to have high rates of skin repopulation was shown to be indistinguishable from the normal treatment response. The model is used to generate testable hypotheses to identify whether atypical rates of skin repopulation by microfilariae could result from low treatment coverage alone or provide evidence of decreased ivermectin efficacy. Further work linking phenotypic poor responses to treatment with parasite molecular genetics markers will be required to confirm drug resistance. Limitations of the skin-snipping method for estimating parasite load indicates that changes in the distribution of microfilarial repopulation rates, rather than their absolute values, maybe a more sensitive indicator of emerging ivermectin resistance.
Project description:Despite a long history of community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI), a high ongoing Onchocerca volvulus transmission is observed in certain onchocerciasis-endemic regions in Africa with a high prevalence of epilepsy. We investigated factors associated with higher microfilarial (mf) density after ivermectin treatment. Skin snips were obtained from O. volvulus-infected persons with epilepsy before, and 3 to 5 months after ivermectin treatment. Participants were enrolled from 4 study sites: Maridi (South Sudan); Logo and Aketi (Democratic Republic of Congo); and Mahenge (Tanzania). Of the 329 participants, 105 (31.9%) had a post-treatment mf density >20% of the pre-treatment value. The percentage reduction in the geometric mean mf density ranged from 69.0% (5 months after treatment) to 89.4% (3 months after treatment). A higher pre-treatment mf density was associated with increased probability of a positive skin snip after ivermectin treatment (p = 0.016). For participants with persistent microfiladermia during follow-up, a higher number of previous CDTI rounds increased the odds of having a post-treatment mf density >20% of the pre-treatment value (p = 0.006). In conclusion, the high onchocerciasis transmission in the study sites may be due to initially high infection intensity in some individuals. Whether the decreasing effect of ivermectin with increasing years of CDTI results from sub-optimal response mechanisms warrants further research.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The morbidity and socioeconomic effects of onchocerciasis, a parasitic disease that is primarily endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, have motivated large morbidity and transmission control programmes. Annual community-directed ivermectin treatment has substantially reduced prevalence. Elimination requires intensified efforts, including more efficacious treatments. We compared parasitological efficacy and safety of moxidectin and ivermectin. METHODS:This double-blind, parallel group, superiority trial was done in four sites in Ghana, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We enrolled participants (aged ?12 years) with at least 10 Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae per mg skin who were not co-infected with Loa loa or lymphatic filariasis microfilaraemic. Participants were randomly allocated, stratified by sex and level of infection, to receive a single oral dose of 8 mg moxidectin or 150 ?g/kg ivermectin as overencapsulated oral tablets. The primary efficacy outcome was skin microfilariae density 12 months post treatment. We used a mixed-effects model to test the hypothesis that the primary efficacy outcome in the moxidectin group was 50% or less than that in the ivermectin group. The primary efficacy analysis population were all participants who received the study drug and completed 12-month follow-up (modified intention to treat). This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00790998. FINDINGS:Between April 22, 2009, and Jan 23, 2011, we enrolled and allocated 998 participants to moxidectin and 501 participants to ivermectin. 978 received moxidectin and 494 ivermectin, of which 947 and 480 were included in primary efficacy outcome analyses. At 12 months, skin microfilarial density (microfilariae per mg of skin) was lower in the moxidectin group (adjusted geometric mean 0·6 [95% CI 0·3-1·0]) than in the ivermectin group (4·5 [3·5-5·9]; difference 3·9 [3·2-4·9], p<0·0001; treatment difference 86%). Mazzotti (ie, efficacy-related) reactions occurred in 967 (99%) of 978 moxidectin-treated participants and in 478 (97%) of 494 ivermectin-treated participants, including ocular reactions (moxidectin 113 [12%] participants and ivermectin 47 [10%] participants), laboratory reactions (788 [81%] and 415 [84%]), and clinical reactions (944 [97%] and 446 [90%]). No serious adverse events were considered to be related to treatment. INTERPRETATION:Skin microfilarial loads (ie, parasite transmission reservoir) are lower after moxidectin treatment than after ivermectin treatment. Moxidectin would therefore be expected to reduce parasite transmission between treatment rounds more than ivermectin could, thus accelerating progress towards elimination. FUNDING:UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The Southern Chiapas focus of onchocerciasis in Southern Mexico represents one of the major onchocerciasis foci in Latin America. All 559 endemic communities of this focus have undergone semi-annual mass treatment with ivermectin since 1998. In 50 communities of this focus, ivermectin frequency shifted from twice to four times a year in 2003; an additional 113 communities were added to the quarterly treatment regimen in 2009 to achieve a rapid suppression of transmission. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In-depth epidemiologic and entomologic assessments were performed in six sentinel communities (which had undergone 2 rounds of ivermectin treatment per year) and three extra-sentinel communities (which had undergone 4 rounds of ivermectin treatment per year). None of the 67,924 Simulium ochraceum s.l. collected from this focus during the dry season of 2011 were found to contain parasite DNA when tested by polymerase chain reaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (PCR-ELISA), resulting in an upper bound of the 95% confidence interval (95%-ULCI) of the infective rate in the vectors of 0.06/2,000 flies examined. Serological assays testing for Onchocerca volvulus exposure conducted on 4,230 children 5 years of age and under (of a total population of 10,280 in this age group) revealed that 2/4,230 individuals were exposed to O. volvulus (0.05%; one sided 95% confidence interval?=?0.08%). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The in-depth epidemiological and entomological findings from the Southern Chiapas focus meet the criteria for interruption of transmission developed by the international community.