Enhanced passive screening and diagnosis for gambiense human African trypanosomiasis in north-western Uganda – Moving towards elimination

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Abstract

© 2017 Wamboga et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Introduction: The incidence of gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (gHAT) in Uganda has been declining, from 198 cases in 2008, to only 20 in 2012. Interruption of transmission of the disease by early diagnosis and treatment is core to the control and eventual elimination of gHAT. Until recently, the format of available screening tests had restricted screening and diagnosis to central health facilities (passive screening). We describe a novel strategy that is contributing to elimination of gHAT in Uganda through expansion of passive screening to the entire population at risk. Methodology / Principal findings: In this strategy, patients who are clinically suspected of having gHAT at primary health facilities are screened using a rapid diagnostic test (RDT), followed by parasitological confirmation at strategically located microscopy centres. For patients who are positive with the RDT and negative by microscopy, blood samples undergo further testing using loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), a molecular test that detects parasite DNA. LAMP positive patients are considered strong suspects, and are re-evaluated by microscopy. Location and upgrading of facilities to perform microscopy and LAMP was informed by results of georeferencing and characterization of all public healthcare facilities in the 7 gHAT endemic districts in Uganda. Three facilities were upgraded to perform RDTs, microscopy and LAMP, 9 to perform RDTs and microscopy, and 200 to screen patients with RDTs. This reduced the distance that a sick person must travel to be screened for gHAT to a median distance of 2.5km compared to 23km previously. In this strategy, 9 gHAT cases were diagnosed in 2014, and 4 in 2015. Conclusions: This enhanced passive screening strategy for gHAT has enabled full coverage of the population at risk, and is being replicated in other gHAT endemic countries. The improvement in case detection is making elimination of the disease in Uganda an imminent possibility.

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Wamboga, C., Matovu, E., Bessell, P. R., Picado, A., Biéler, S., & Ndung’u, J. M. (2017). Enhanced passive screening and diagnosis for gambiense human African trypanosomiasis in north-western Uganda – Moving towards elimination. PLoS ONE, 12(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186429

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