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From the safety inside vehicles, Knowsley Safari offers visitors a close-up encounter with captive olive baboons. As exiting vehicles may be contaminated with baboon stool, a comprehensive coprological inspection was conducted to address public health concerns. Baboon stools were obtained from vehicles, and sleeping areas, inclusive of video analysis of baboon–vehicle interactions. A purposely selected 4-day sampling period enabled comparative inspections of 2662 vehicles, with a total of 669 baboon stools examined (371 from vehicles and 298 from sleeping areas). As informed by our pilot study, front-line diagnostic methods were: QUIK-CHEK rapid diagnostic test (RDT) (Giardia and Cryptosporidium), Kato–Katz coproscopy (Trichuris) and charcoal culture (Strongyloides). Some 13.9% of vehicles were contaminated with baboon stool. Prevalence of giardiasis was 37.4% while cryptosporidiosis was <0.01%, however, an absence of faecal cysts by quality control coproscopy, alongside lower than the expected levels of Giardia-specific DNA, judged RDT results as misleading, grossly overestimating prevalence. Prevalence of trichuriasis was 48.0% and strongyloidiasis was 13.7%, a first report of Strongyloides fuelleborni in UK. We advise regular blanket administration(s) of anthelminthics to the colony, exploring pour-on formulations, thereafter, smaller-scale indicator surveys would be adequate.
Reliable diagnosis of human helminth infection(s) is essential for ongoing disease surveillance and disease elimination. Current WHO-recommended diagnostic assays are unreliable in low-endemic near-elimination settings and typically involve the invasive, onerous and potentially hazardous sampling of bodily fluids such as stool and blood, as well as tissue via biopsy. In contrast, diagnosis by use of non-invasive urine sampling is generally painless, more convenient and low risk. It negates the need for specialist staff, can usually be obtained immediately upon request and is better accepted by patients. In some instances, urine-based diagnostic assays have also been shown to provide a more reliable diagnosis of infection when compared to traditional methods that require alternative and more invasive bodily samples, particularly in low-endemicity settings. Given these relative benefits, we identify and review current research literature to evaluate whether non-invasive urine sampling is currently exploited to its full potential in the development of diagnostic tools for human helminthiases. Though further development, assessment and validation are needed before their routine use in control programmes, low-cost, rapid and reliable assays capable of detecting transrenal helminth-derived antigens and cell-free DNA show excellent promise for future use at the point-of-care in high-, medium- and even low-endemicity elimination settings.
Part of Robert T. Leiper's (1881–1969) lasting legacy in medical helminthology is grounded on his pioneering work on schistosomiasis (Bilharzia). Having undertaken many expeditions to the tropics, his fascination with parasite life cycles typically allowed him to devise simple preventive measures that curtailed transmission. Building on his formative work with others in Africa and Asia, and again in Egypt in 1915, he elucidated the life cycles of African schistosomes. His mandate, then commissioned by the British War Office, was to prevent and break transmission of this disease in British troops. This he did by raising standing orders based on simple water hygiene measures. Whilst feasible in military camp settings, today their routine implementation is sadly out of reach for millions of Africans living in poverty. Whilst we celebrate the centenary of Leiper's research we draw attention to some of his lesser known colleagues, then focus on schistosomiasis in Uganda discussing why expanded access to treatment with praziquantel is needed now. Looking to WHO 2020 targets for neglected tropical diseases, we introduce COUNTDOWN, an implementation research consortium funded by DFID, UK, which fosters the scale-up of interventions and confirm the current relevance of Leiper's original research.
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