Background: India has made great progress towards the elimination of lymphatic filariasis. By 2015, most endemic districts had completed at least five annual rounds of mass drug administration (MDA). The next challenge is to determine when MDA can be stopped. We performed a simulation study with the individual-based model LYMFASIM to help clarify this. Methods: We used a model-variant for Indian settings. We considered different hypotheses on detectability of antigenaemia (Ag) in relation to underlying adult worm burden, choosing the most likely hypothesis by comparing the model predicted association between community-level microfilaraemia (Mf) and antigenaemia (Ag) prevalence levels to observed data (collated from literature). Next, we estimated how long MDA must be continued in order to achieve elimination in different transmission settings and what Mf and Ag prevalence may still remain 1 year after the last required MDA round. The robustness of key-outcomes was assessed in a sensitivity analysis. Results: Our model matched observed data qualitatively well when we assumed an Ag detection rate of 50 % for single worm infections, which increases with the number of adult worms (modelled by relating detection to the presence of female worms). The required duration of annual MDA increased with higher baseline endemicity and lower coverage (varying between 2 and 12 rounds), while the remaining residual infection 1 year after the last required treatment declined with transmission intensity. For low and high transmission settings, the median residual infection levels were 1.0 % and 0.4 % (Mf prevalence in the 5+ population), and 3.5 % and 2.0 % (Ag prevalence in 6-7 year-old children). Conclusion: To achieve elimination in high transmission settings, MDA must be continued longer and infection levels must be reduced to lower levels than in low-endemic communities. Although our simulations were for Indian settings, qualitatively similar patterns are also expected in other areas. This should be taken into account in decision algorithms to define whether MDA can be interrupted. Transmission assessment surveys should ideally be targeted to communities with the highest pre-control transmission levels, to minimize the risk of programme failure.

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Parasites and Vectors
Department of Public Health

Jambulingam, P. (Purushothaman), Subramanian, S. V., de Vlas, S., Vinubala, C. (Chellasamy), & Stolk, W. (2016). Mathematical modelling of lymphatic filariasis elimination programmes in India: Required duration of mass drug administration and post-treatment level of infection indicators. Parasites and Vectors, 9(1). doi:10.1186/s13071-016-1768-y