Kariuki, Henry C.3; Madsen, Henry10; Ouma, John H.4; Butterworth, Anthony E.5; Dunne, David W.6; Booth, Mark11; Kimani, Gachuhi8; Mwatha, Joseph K8; Muchiri, Eric9; Vennervald, Birgitte J10
1 Parasitology and Aquatic Diseases, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Food Safety and Zoonoses, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 Kenya Ministry of Health4 DBL Centre for Health Research and Development, Institute of Veterinary Disease Biology, University of Copenhagen5 Maseno University6 University of Malawi7 University of Cambridge8 Durham University9 Kenya Medical Research Institute10 Parasitology and Aquatic Diseases, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet11 University of Cambridge
BACKGROUND: Schistosoma mansoni infection is a persistent public health problem in many Kenyan communities. Although praziquantel is available, re-infection after chemotherapy treatment is inevitable, especially among children. Chemotherapy followed by intermittent mollusciciding of habitats of Biomphalaria pfeifferi, the intermediate host snail, may have longer term benefits, especially if timed to coincide with natural fluctuations in snail populations. METHODS: In this cohort study, the Kambu River (Intervention area) was molluscicided intermittently for 4 years, after mass chemotherapy with praziquantel in the adjacent community of Darajani in January 1997. The nearby Thange River was selected as a control (Non-intervention area), and its adjacent community of Ulilinzi was treated with praziquantel in December 1996. Snail numbers were recorded monthly at 9--10 sites along each river, while rainfall data were collected monthly, and annual parasitological surveys were undertaken in each village. The mollusciciding protocol was adapted to local conditions, and simplified to improve prospects for widespread application. RESULTS: After the initial reduction in prevalence attributable to chemotherapy, there was a gradual increase in the prevalence and intensity of infection in the non-intervention area, and significantly lower levels of re-infection amongst inhabitants of the intervention area. Incidence ratio between areas adjusted for age and gender at the first follow-up survey, 5 weeks after treatment in the non-intervention area and 4 months after treatment in the intervention area was not significant (few people turned positive), while during the following 4 annual surveys these ratios were 0.58 (0.39-0.85), 0.33 (0.18-0.60), 0.14 (0.09-0.21) and 0.45 (0.26-0.75), respectively. Snail numbers were consistently low in the intervention area as a result of the mollusciciding. Following termination of the mollusciciding at the end of 2000, snail populations and infections in snails increased again in the intervention area. CONCLUSION: The results of this study demonstrate that in the Kenyan setting a combination of chemotherapy followed by intermittent mollusciciding can have longer term benefits than chemotherapy alone.