Elimination of Taenia solium Transmission in Northern Peru

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Taeniasis and cysticercosis are major causes of seizures and epilepsy. Infection by the causative parasite Taenia solium requires transmission between humans and pigs. The disease is considered to be eradicable, but data on attempts at regional elimination are lacking. We conducted a three-phase control program in Tumbes, Peru, to determine whether regional elimination would be feasible.

METHODS

We systematically tested and compared elimination strategies to show the feasibility of interrupting the transmission of T. solium infection in a region of highly endemic disease in Peru. In phase 1, we assessed the effectiveness and feasibility of six intervention strategies that involved screening of humans and pigs, antiparasitic treatment, prevention education, and pig replacement in 42 villages. In phase 2, we compared mass treatment with mass screening (each either with or without vaccination of pigs) in 17 villages. In phase 3, we implemented the final strategy of mass treatment of humans along with the mass treatment and vaccination of pigs in the entire rural region of Tumbes (107 villages comprising 81,170 people and 55,638 pigs). The effect of the intervention was measured after phases 2 and 3 with the use of detailed necropsy to detect pigs with live, nondegenerated cysts capable of causing new infection. The necropsy sampling was weighted in that we preferentially included more samples from seropositive pigs than from seronegative pigs.

RESULTS

Only two of the strategies implemented in phase 1 resulted in limited control over the transmission of T. solium infection, which highlighted the need to intensify the subsequent strategies. After the strategies in phase 2 were implemented, no cyst that was capable of further transmission of T. solium infection was found among 658 sampled pigs. One year later, without further intervention, 7 of 310 sampled pigs had live, nondegenerated cysts, but no infected pig was found in 11 of 17 villages, including all the villages in which mass antiparasitic treatment plus vaccination was implemented. After the final strategy was implemented in phase 3, a total of 3 of 342 pigs had live, nondegenerated cysts, but no infected pig was found in 105 of 107 villages.

CONCLUSIONS

We showed that the transmission of T. solium infection was interrupted on a regional scale in a highly endemic region in Peru. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.)

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