July 31, 2015
This summer the DOLF team has been busy collecting data from three of our study sites. Washington University in St. Louis investigator, Dr. Peter Fischer, and project manager for operations, Joshua Bogus, were in Côte d’Ivoire for the beginning of the first annual follow-up surveys. For two weeks in June, they joined the study manager Dr. Olivier Kouadio in Abengourou to kick off the start of these surveys. Dr. Kouadio and the team of technicians and physicians were able to survey over 800 people during the expedition. Individuals were tested for LF using the Alere filariasis test strip (FTS) and blood smears. In addition, the investigators were able to collect stool samples in order to monitor the effect of MDA treatment (ivermectin + albendazole) on soil-transmitted helminthes (STH). The trip proved successful and Dr. Kouadio’s team is currently back in Abengourou to finish surveying another group of study villages. The information from this research site will help determine the effectiveness of once vs. twice annual MDA for controlling and eliminating LF and onchocerciasis (river blindness).
Meanwhile, collaborators from the Institute de Recherche pour la Developpment (IRD) led by Dr. Michel Boussinesq were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the one-year follow-up of a study investigating the impact of twice annual albendazole MDA on LF infection.
The team also included Dr. Sebastien Pion and Cedric Chesnais from IRD and Dr. Johnny Vlaminck from Washington University in St. Louis. Almost 800 people were examined for LF using the FTS and blood smears, and stool samples were collected to monitor STH infections. The results of the survey are currently being evaluated and will contribute to policies for LF control programs in central Africa where the traditional MDA approach using ivermectin is too dangerous to use due to potentially deadly side affects in people infected with Loa loa. Dr. Boussinesq and the rest of the team at IRD are now preparing for another field visit in neighboring Republic of Congo where they have a similar ongoing study.
In Liberia, the research team led by Dr. Fatorma Bolay and Lincoln Gankpala were also busy conducting a follow-up survey in Maryland County. Mr. Gankpala and his team spent more than a month examining over 1,300 people for filariasis, onchocerciasis, and STH. The team delivered MDA to the study villages, and will return next year for the final follow-up.