Elephantiasis close to elimination in Egypt

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Five rounds of yearly mass drug administration are likely to have eliminated the parasites that cause elephantiasis in most areas of Egypt, according to a study in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Elephantiasis, or lymphatic filariasis, is a disfiguring and disabling tropical disease caused by infection with parasitic worms. Egypt is one of the first countries to implement a national programme to eliminate the disease using the World Health Organization's strategy of repeated rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) with diethylcarbamazine and albendazole.

To assess the effect of the programme, Gary Weil (Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA) and an Egyptian team lead by Reda Ramzy (Ain Shams University, Cairo) surveyed villages in two areas of Egypt for signs of infection. One of the study areas had a high infection rate and one a low infection rate before MDA was initiated. The investigators found that all measures of infection and transmission fell sharply in both study areas after MDA.

Dr Weil states: "These villages seem to be on track to achieve filariasis elimination after five or six yearly rounds of MDA. If these sentinel villages are typical of communities included in the national programme, the programme will probably be successful."

See also accompanying Comment.

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Contact: Dr Gary J Weil, Infectious Diseases Division, Box 8051, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. T) 314-454-7782 gweil@im.wustl.edu


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