Understanding the relationship between prevalence of microfilariae and antigenaemia using a model of lymphatic filariasis infection

28 Jan 2016
Michael A. Irvine, Sammy M. Njenga, Shamini Gunawardena, Claire Njeri Wamae, Jorge Cano, Simon J. Brooker, T. Deirdre Hollingsworth


Lymphatic filariasis is a debilitating neglected tropical disease that affects impoverished communities. Rapid diagnostic tests of antigenaemia are a practical alternative to parasitological tests of microfilaraemia for mapping and surveillance. However the relationship between these two methods of measuring burden has previously been difficult to interpret.


A statistical model of the distribution of worm burden and microfilariae (mf) and resulting antigenaemic and mf prevalence was developed and fitted to surveys of two contrasting sentinel sites undergoing interventions. The fitted model was then used to explore the relationship in various pre- and post-intervention scenarios.


The model had good quantitative agreement with the data and provided estimates of the reduction in mf output due to treatment. When extrapolating the results to a range of prevalences there was good qualitative agreement with published data.


The observed relationship between antigenamic and mf prevalence is a natural consequence of the relationship between prevalence and intensity of adult worms and mf production. The method described here allows the estimation of key epidemiological parameters and consequently gives insight into the efficacy of an intervention programme.