The impact of six rounds of single-dose mass administration of diethylcarbamazine or ivermectin on the transmission of Wuchereria bancrofti by Culex quinquefasciatus and its implications for lymphatic filariasis elimination programmes
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is targeted for global elimination. Transmission interruption through repeated annual single-dose mass administration of anti-filarial drugs is the mainstay of the LF elimination strategy. This study examined the ability of six rounds of mass administration of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) or ivermectin (IVM) to interrupt transmission of Wuchereria bancrofti by Culex quinquefasciatus, the predominant parasite and vector species, respectively. After six rounds of mass drug administration (MDA), received by 54–75% of the eligible population (≥15 kg body weight), the resting vector infection and infectivity rates fell by 83% and 79% in the DEC arm, 85% and 84% in the IVM arm and 31% and 45% in the placebo arm, respectively. The landing vector infection and infectivity rates fell by 83% and 94% in the DEC arm, 63% and 75% in the IVM arm and 1% each in the placebo arm, respectively. The filarial larval load per resting mosquito declined by 92% and 93% and per landing mosquito by 83% and 69% in the DEC and IVM arms, respectively. The annual infective biting rate (AIBR) fell from 735 to 93 (87%) in the DEC arm, 422 to 102 (76%) in the IVM arm and 472 to 398 (16%) in the placebo arm. The annual transmission potential (ATP) declined from 2514 to 125 (95%), 1212 to 241 (80%) and 1547 to 1402 (9%) in the DEC, IVM and placebo arms, respectively. However, mosquitoes with infection [microfilaria/larva 1/larva 2 (Mf/L1/L2)] were found in all study villages. Three of five villages in the IVM arm and two of five in the DEC arm recorded no resting mosquitoes with infective-stage (L3) larva. Although the ATP, after six rounds of MDA, fell substantially and remained at 125 and 241 in the DEC and IVM arms, respectively, the cumulative exposure to infective stage larvae (ATP) during the treatment period of 6 years was as high as 2995 in the DEC arm and 1522 in the IVM arm, because of considerable level of transmission during the initial (1–3) rounds of MDA. We conclude that (i) six rounds of MDA, even with 54–75% treatment coverage, can reduce LF transmission very appreciably; (ii) better treatment coverage and a few more rounds of MDA may achieve total interruption of transmission; (iii) high vector densities may partly nullify the reductions achieved in vector infection and infectivity rates by MDA and (iv) achievement of ‘true zero’ Mf prevalence in communities and 0% infection rate (mosquitoes with Mf/L1/L2) in mosquitoes may be necessary to totally interrupt Culex-transmitted LF.