Programmatic Use of Molecular Xenomonitoring at the Level of Evaluation Units to Assess Persistence of Lymphatic Filariasis in Sri Lanka

Ramakrishna U. Rao, Sandhya D. Samarasekera, Kumara C. Nagodavithana, Manjula W. Punchihewa, Tharanga D.M. Dassanayaka, P. K.D. Gamini, Ethan Ford, Udaya S.B. Ranasinghe, Ralph H. Henderson, Gary J. Weil

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22 Scopus citations


Background: Sri Lanka’s Anti Filariasis Campaign distributed 5 rounds of mass drug administration (MDA with DEC plus albendazole) to all endemic regions in the country from 2002–2006. Post-MDA surveillance results have generally been encouraging. However, recent studies have documented low level persistence of Wuchereria bancrofti in Galle district based on comprehensive surveys that include molecular xenomonitoring (MX, detection of filarial DNA in mosquitoes) results. The purposes of this study were to demonstrate the use of MX in large evaluation units (EUs) and to field test different mosquito sampling schemes. Methodology/Principal Findings: Galle district (population 1.1 million) was divided into two EUs. These included a coastal EU with known persistent LF and an inland EU with little persistent LF. Mosquitoes were systematically sampled from ~300 trap locations in 30 randomly selected clusters (health administrative units) per EU. Approximately 28,000 Culex quinquefasciatus were collected with gravid traps and tested for filarial DNA by qPCR. 92/625 pools (14.7%) from the coastal EU and 8/583 pools (1.4%) from the inland EU were positive for filarial DNA. Maximum likelihood estimates (MLE) for filarial DNA rates were essentially the same when the same number of mosquito pools were collected and tested from 75, 150, or 300 trap sites (range 0.61–0.78% for the coastal EU and 0.04–0.07% for the inland EU). The ability to use a smaller number of trap sites reduces the cost and time required for mosquito sampling. Conclusions/Significance: These results suggest there is widespread persistence of W. bancrofti infection in the coastal Galle EU 8 years after the last round of MDA in 2006, and this is consistent with other data from the district. This study has shown that MX can be used by national programs to assess and map the persistence of W. bancrofti at the level of large EUs in areas with Culex transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0004722
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 19 2016

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