Award for neglected tropical disease project

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito obtaining a “blood meal” (centre) with microscopic roundworms © : DPDx, PHIL
A female Aedes aegypti mosquito obtaining “blood meal” (centre) with microscopic roundworms

A project to maintain the elimination of a neglected tropical disease has won a $260,500 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The project is a partnership between Lancaster, Birmingham, and Surrey universities with the goal of developing more efficient sampling strategies, using geospatial statistical methods, for surveillance of lymphatic filariasis infections following elimination. 

Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic worms and is spread by mosquitoes. It is a leading cause of permanent disability worldwide.

Lancaster researchers include Professor Peter Diggle, Dr Claudio Fronterre and Dr Emanuele Giorgi from the Centre for Health Informatics, Computing, and Statistics (CHICAS) at Lancaster Medical School.

Dr Giorgi said: “Our success in this highly competitive call from USAID is testament to the growing international reputation of the CHICAS group in the development of advanced geospatial methodology for tropical disease epidemiology.

“We will develop user-friendly interfaces of our methods for use by national control programmes, to enable them to independently apply our advanced methodology for survey design.”

Once a neglected tropical disease is eliminated, the use of traditional survey methods to identify signs of a resurgence of infection requires large sample sizes and is costly.

Model-based geostatistical methods deliver more precise results than traditional surveys.

The model will be developed into a user-friendly web application that can be used by national control program personnel to make decisions regarding post-elimination surveillance.

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