Forecasting Trachoma Control and Identifying Transmission-Hotspots

14 Jun 2021
Seth Blumberg, Joaquin M Prada, Christine Tedijanto, Michael S Deiner, William W Godwin, Paul M Emerson, Pamela J Hooper, Anna Borlase, T Deirdre Hollingsworth, Catherine E Oldenburg, Travis C Porco, Benjamin F Arnold, Thomas M Lietman


Tremendous progress towards elimination of trachoma as a public health problem has been made. However, there are areas where the clinical indicator of disease, trachomatous inflammation—follicular (TF), remains prevalent. We quantify the progress that has been made, and forecast how TF prevalence will evolve with current interventions. We also determine the probability that a district is a transmission-hotspot based on its TF prevalence (ie, reproduction number greater than one).


Data on trachoma prevalence come from the GET2020 global repository organized by the World Health Organization and the International Trachoma Initiative. Forecasts of TF prevalence and the percent of districts with local control is achieved by regressing the coefficients of a fitted exponential distribution for the year-by-year distribution of TF prevalence. The probability of a district being a transmission-hotspot is extrapolated from the residuals of the regression.


Forecasts suggest that with current interventions, 96.5% of surveyed districts will have TF prevalence among children aged 1–9 years <5% by 2030 (95% CI: 86.6%–100.0%). Districts with TF prevalence < 20% appear unlikely to be transmission-hotspots. However, a district having TF prevalence of over 28% in 2016–2019 corresponds to at least 50% probability of being a transmission-hotspot.


Sustainable control of trachoma appears achievable. However there are transmission-hotspots that are not responding to annual mass drug administration of azithromycin and require enhanced treatment in order to reach local control.