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Open Access Research

Soil transmitted helminths and scabies in Zanzibar, Tanzania following mass drug administration for lymphatic filariasis - a rapid assessment methodology to assess impact

Khalfan A Mohammed1, Rinki M Deb2, Michelle C Stanton2 and David H Molyneux2*

Author Affiliations

1 NTD Control Programme Manager, Ministry of Health, Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania

2 Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, L3 5QA, UK

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:299  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-299

Published: 21 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Ivermectin and albendazole are used in annual mass drug administration (MDA) for the lymphatic filariasis elimination programmes in African countries co-endemic for onchocerciasis, but have additional impact on soil transmitted helminths and the ectoparasitic mite which causes scabies. Assessing these collateral impacts at scale is difficult due to the insensitivity of available parasite detection techniques.

Methods

The numbers of cases diagnosed with intestinal helminths and scabies and who received prescriptions for treatment were evaluated in 50 health centres in Zanzibar. Records were examined from 2000, prior to the initiation of MDA to 2005, after six rounds of MDA for lymphatic filariasis had taken place.

Results

Health centre records showed a consistent decline in the number of cases of intestinal helminths and scabies diagnosed by community health workers in Zanzibar and the number of prescriptions issued across five age groups. A 90-98% decline in soil transmitted helminths and 68-98% decline in scabies infections were recorded. Poisson regression models aggregated to both the island-level and district-level indicated that the decline was statistically significant.

Conclusions

The described method of examining health centre records has the potential for use on a large scale, despite limitations, as a rapid method to evaluate the impacts resulting from both lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis MDA. This would result in a reduction in the need for parasitological evaluations to determine prevalence and intensity.