Global assessment of schistosomiasis control over the past century shows targeting the snail intermediate host works best

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
By: , and 

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Abstract

Background

Despite control efforts, human schistosomiasis remains prevalent throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. The global schistosomiasis burden has changed little since the new anthelmintic drug, praziquantel, promised widespread control.

Methodology

We evaluated large-scale schistosomiasis control attempts over the past century and across the globe by identifying factors that predict control program success: snail control (e.g., molluscicides or biological control), mass drug administrations (MDA) with praziquantel, or a combined strategy using both. For data, we compiled historical information on control tactics and their quantitative outcomes for all 83 countries and territories in which: (i) schistosomiasis was allegedly endemic during the 20th century, and (ii) schistosomiasis remains endemic, or (iii) schistosomiasis has been "eliminated," or is "no longer endemic," or transmission has been interrupted.

Principal Findings

Widespread snail control reduced prevalence by 92 ± 5% (N = 19) vs. 37 ± 7% (N = 29) for programs using little or no snail control. In addition, ecological, economic, and political factors contributed to schistosomiasis elimination. For instance, snail control was most common and widespread in wealthier countries and when control began earlier in the 20th century.

Conclusions/Significance

Snail control has been the most effective way to reduce schistosomiasis prevalence. Despite evidence that snail control leads to long-term disease reduction and elimination, most current schistosomiasis control efforts emphasize MDA using praziquantel over snail control. Combining drug-based control programs with affordable snail control seems the best strategy for eliminating schistosomiasis.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Global assessment of schistosomiasis control over the past century shows targeting the snail intermediate host works best
Series title PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
DOI 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004794
Volume 10
Issue 7
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher PLoS
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description e0004794; 19 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N