Comprehensive assessment of a hotspot with persistent bancroftian filariasis in coastal Sri Lanka

Ramakrishna U. Rao, Sandhya D. Samarasekera, Kumara C. Nagodavithana, Charles W. Goss, Manjula W. Punchihewa, Tharanga D.M. Dassanayaka, Udaya S.B. Ranasinghe, Devika Mendis, Gary J. Weil

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23 Scopus citations


The Sri Lankan Anti-Filariasis campaign distributed five rounds of mass drug administration (MDA with diethylcarbamazine plus albendazole) to some 10 million people in eight districts between 2002 and 2006. Sri Lanka was recognized bythe WHO for having eliminated lymphatic filariasis (LF) as apublic health problem in 2016. However, recent studies by our group documented pockets with persistent LF in coastal Sri Lanka, especially in Galle district. The present study was performed to reexamine an area previously identified as a potential hotspot for persistent LF (Balapitiya Public Health Inspector area, population 17, 500). A community survey documented high rates for circulating filarial antigenemia (3%, confidence interval [CI]: 1.8-4.9) and microfilaremia (1%, CI: 0.5-2.5%). Circulating filarial antigenemia rates were 2.8-fold higher in males than females. High prevalence was also observed for anti-filarial antibodies in young children (5.7%, CI: 3.7-8.4%) and for filarial DNA in vector mosquitoes (5.2%, CI: 4.2-6.3%). Spatial data showed that persistent LF was dispersed across the entire study area. Other studies showed that persistent LF was not limited to Balapitiya and not solved by additional rounds of MDA. Molecular xenomonitoring studies conducted in 2016 in 22 of 168 Public Health Midwife areas in the coastal Galle evaluation unit (approximate population 600,000) found that 179 of 660 (27%) pools of Culex collected from all areas were positive for Wuchereria bancrofti DNA by quantitative polymerase chain reaction; the estimated infection rate in mosquitoes was 1.26%, CI: 1.0-1.5%. Interventions other than routine MDA will be required to remove LF hotspots in Balapitiya and in other areas in coastal Sri Lanka.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-742
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


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