Mwakitalu, Mbutolwe E.2; Malecela, Mwele N.2; Pedersen, Erling Møller5; Mosha, Franklin W.6; Simonsen, Paul Erik7
1 Parasitology and Aquatic Diseases, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Mwanza Research Centre, National Institute of Medical Research, Tanzania.3 Section of Parasitology, Health and Development, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Tumaini University5 Section of Parasitology, Health and Development, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet6 Tumaini University7 Parasitology and Aquatic Diseases, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
Urban lymphatic filariasis (LF) has been listed among the challenges to the ongoing global efforts to eliminate LF. This is partly because the control strategies developed for rural areas - where most LF occurs - do not easily comply with human organization and behaviour in urban areas, and partly because the urban vectors thrive and proliferate in poorly planned urban settlements. This study investigated LF infection, disease and transmission in the medium-sized city of Tanga (approx. 300,000 inhabitants), Tanzania, after seven rounds of mass drug administration (MDA). Three representative sites with varying distance from the city centre were selected for the study. Pupils from one public primary school at each site were screened for circulating filarial antigens (CFA; marker of adult worm infection) and antibodies to Bm14 (marker of exposure to transmission). Community members were examined for CFA, microfilariae and chronic manifestations. Questionnaires were administered to pupils and heads of community households, and vector surveys were carried out in selected households. Although there was evidence of considerable reduction in infection and transmission, there was still LF in the city, with mf and CFA prevalences well above the cut-off levels for stopping MDA. In this respect, the LF situation resembled that seen in nearby rural areas outside the city. The study emphasizes the importance of motivating the urban individuals to engage and comply with the full range of LF intervention measures (MDAs, use of mosquito proofing measures including bed nets, environmental sanitation to prevent vector breeding) in order to reach successful LF control in the city. The high LF disease burden noted, despite the reduction in infection and transmission, moreover emphasizes the importance of allocating resources for morbidity management, to ensure true elimination of LF as a public health problem.