Four annual mass treatments of single doses of safe and inexpensive drugs found effective
Researchers report in the December 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reaching an important milestone in learning how to halt a major mosquito-borne disease affecting 120 million people around the world. The disease, called lymphatic filariasis and commonly known as elephantiasis, is a leading cause of physical disfigurement, social ostracism, and economic loss throughout Africa, Asia, South America, and islands of the Pacific Ocean. The disease can lead to dramatically swollen and disfigured legs, arms, breasts, and genitals.
Treating 2500 residents in a remote area of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific, the researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, and Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research found dramatic results with four annual mass treatments of single doses of safe and inexpensive anti-filarial (anti-worm) drugs. There was a greater than 95 percent decrease in mosquito transmission, nearly complete prevention of new infections in children, reduction of infection rates in the communities to less than one percent, and remarkably, cure of severe disease manifestations such as extremely enlarged arms and legs, and genital disfigurement. Combined with conclusions drawn from mathematical analysis of the interrelationships between the potentials of mosquito transmission and human infection, the report clearly sets the precedent that annual mass treatment with safe and inexpensive medications can go a long way toward eliminating this devastating disease.
George Stamatis | EurekAlert!
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