Topical application of diethylcarbamazine to detect onchocerciasis recrudescence in west Africa

L Toè, A G Adjami, B A Boatin, C Back, E S Alley, N Dembélé, P G Brika, E Pearlman, T R Unnasch
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2000, 94 (5): 519-25
The Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa (OCP) has succeeded in eliminating blinding onchocerciasis as a public health problem throughout much of West Africa. The efforts of the OCP are now turning towards surveillance, with the goal of rapidly detecting and controlling outbreaks of infection in the onchocerciasis-free zone. With this goal in mind, cutaneous application of a solution of diethylcarbamazine (the DEC-patch test) was evaluated in 1996-99 as a method to detect patent Onchocerca volvulus infection in children and adolescents, a sentinel population for the detection of recrudescence. In an analysis of 1887 individuals in Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso, the DEC-patch test produced prevalence estimates comparable to those obtained by skin snip. The sensitivity of the DEC-patch assay was marginally greater in children and adolescents than in adults, and was greater in individuals who had received prior Mectizan treatment. These data suggest that the DEC-patch test may be a useful tool for detecting recrudescence of O. volvulus infection in a sentinel population of children and young adults within the onchocerciasis-free zone created by the OCP.

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