Surveillance Surveys for Reemergent Trachoma in Formerly Endemic Districts in Nepal From 2 to 10 Years After Mass Drug Administration Cessation

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Abstract

Importance

To verify districts for elimination of blinding trachoma, the World Health Organization requires a population-based surveillance survey for follicular trachoma (TF) and trachomatous trichiasis (TT) 2 years after mass drug administration (MDA) activities have ceased. However, it is unknown if 2 years provides enough time to discover reemergence.

Objective

To determine the prevalence of trachoma from surveys among 4 districts in Nepal (Dailekh, Dang, Surkhet, and Kanchanpur) that had surveillance intervals of 2, 4, 8, and 10 years, respectively, after cessation of MDA.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Cross-sectional surveys were carried out in 2015 and 2016. Data analyses were done from March to September 2016. Among 20 clusters randomly selected from each district, 15 were randomly selected for infection and antibody testing: TF and TT were assessed, conjunctival swabs were tested for chlamydial infection, and blood spots were collected on filter paper to test for antibodies to Chlamydia trachomatis pgp3 using a multiplex bead assay. The study setting was 4 districts previously endemic for trachoma in Nepal. Participants were randomly selected and included 50 children aged 1 to 9 years and 100 adolescents and adults 15 years and older from each of the 20 clusters; this investigation reports on the children.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Length of time since the last round of MDA and the prevalence of TF among children aged 1 to 9 years and the prevalence of TT among adolescents and adults 15 years and older.

Results

Of 3024 children surveyed in the clusters, 48.0% (n = 1452) were female. The mean (SD) age of the children was 5.4 (2.6) years. Eleven cases of TF were found, with a TF prevalence less than 1% in all 4 districts. Three cases of infection were found. Seropositivity for pgp3 antibody varied from 1.4% (95% CI, 0.7-2.6) in the district with a 10-year surveillance interval to 2.5% (95% CI, 1.3-4.5) in the district with a 4-year surveillance interval. Seropositivity increased slightly with age in only one district. The TT prevalence was less than 1 case per 1000 among the total population in all 4 districts after accounting for cases known to the health system and cases with no scarred conjunctiva.

Conclusions and Relevance

This study found no evidence of reemergence of trachoma up to 10 years after cessation of MDA in 4 districts in children in Nepal. The recommendation for a surveillance survey at 2 years, as proposed by the World Health Organization, is supported by these data. Determining if individuals with TT had scarring or are known to the health system was critical for meeting elimination criteria of blinding trachoma.

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