Initiating NTD programs targeting schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis in two provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Establishment of baseline prevalence for mass drug administration
Background: Schistosomiasis (SCH) and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) are widely distributed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and constitute a serious public health problem. As recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), before launching mass chemotherapy to control these diseases, parasitological surveys were conducted in sentinel sites in six health zones (HZs) in Bandundu and Maniema provinces. Baseline prevalence and intensity of infection for SCH and STH were determined to establish the appropriate treatment plan using Praziquantel (PZQ) and Albendazole (ALB).
Methods: Parasitological surveys were conducted from April to May 2015 in twenty-six selected sampling units (schools) for baseline mapping in six HZs: Fifty school children (25 females and 25 males) aged 9-15 years were randomly selected per sampling unit. A total of 1300 samples (urine and stool) were examined using haematuria dipsticks, parasite-egg filtration and the point-of-care Circulating Cathodic Antigen (POC-CCA) assay for urine samples and the Kato-Katz technique for stool specimens.
Results: Three species of schistosomes (S. mansoni, S. haematobium and S. intercalatum) and three groups of STH (hookworm, Ascaris and Trichuris) were detected at variable prevalence and intensity among the schools, the HZs and the provinces. In Bandundu, no SCH was detected by either Kato-Katz or the POC-CCA technique, despite a high prevalence of STH with 68% and 80% at Kiri and Pendjua HZs, respectively. In Maniema, intestinal schistosomiasis was detected by both Kato Katz and POC-CCA with an average prevalence by Kato-Katz of 32.8% and by POC-CCA of 42.1%. Comparative studies confirmed the greater sensitivity (and operational feasibility) of the POC-CCA test on urine compared to Kato-Katz examination of stool for diagnosing intestinal schistosomiasis even in areas of comparatively light infections. STH was widely distributed and present in all HZs with a mean prevalence (95% CI) of 59.62% (46.00-65.00%). The prevalence of hookworm, roundworm and whipworm were 51.62% (32.40%-71.50%), 15.77% (0.50%-39.60%) and 13.46 (0.50%-33.20%), respectively.
Conclusion: This study provided the evidence base for implementing programs targeting SCH and STH in these Health Zones. Observations also reinforce the operational value and feasibility of the POC-CCA test to detect S. mansoni and, for the first time, S. intercalatum infections in a routine NTD program setting. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.