Reduced Efficacy of Praziquantel Against Schistosoma mansoni Is Associated With Multiple Rounds of Mass Drug Administration


Mass drug administration (MDA) with praziquantel is the cornerstone of schistosomiasis control in sub-Saharan Africa. The effectiveness of this strategy is dependent on the continued high efficacy of praziquantel; however, drug efficacy is rarely monitored using appropriate statistical approaches that can detect early signs of wane. We conducted a repeated cross-sectional study, examining children infected with Schistosoma mansoni from 6 schools in Uganda that had previously received between 1 and 9 rounds of MDA with praziquantel. We collected up to 12 S. mansoni egg counts from 414 children aged 6-12 years before and 25-27 days after treatment with praziquantel. We estimated individual patient egg reduction rates (ERRs) using a statistical model to explore the influence of covariates, including the number of prior MDA rounds. The average ERR among children within schools that had received 8 or 9 previous rounds of MDA (95% Bayesian credible interval [BCI], 88.23%-93.64%) was statistically significantly lower than the average in schools that had received 5 rounds (95% BCI, 96.13%-99.08%) or 1 round (95% BCI, 95.51%-98.96%) of MDA. We estimate that 5.11%, 4.55%, and 16.42% of children from schools that had received 1, 5, and 8-9 rounds of MDA, respectively, had ERRs below the 90% threshold of optimal praziquantel efficacy set by the World Health Organization. The reduced efficacy of praziquantel in schools with a higher exposure to MDA may pose a threat to the effectiveness of schistosomiasis control programs. We call for the efficacy of anthelmintic drugs used in MDA to be closely monitored.

In Clinical Infectious Diseases 63:1151–1159
James Cotton
James Cotton
Senior Staff Scientist

My research interests are in the genomics, and particularly population genomics of parasites, particularly those that cause neglected tropical diseases