Preventive chemotherapy reverses covert, lymphatic associated tissue change in young people with lymphatic filariasis in Myanmar.
OBJECTIVES: This longitudinal comparative study investigated the effect of preventive chemotherapy (PC) on covert tissue changes associated with lymphatic filariasis (LF) among young people living in an LF-endemic area in Myanmar.
METHODS: Tissue compressibility and extracellular free fluid in the lower limbs of people aged 10 - 21 years were measured using Indurometry and bio-impedance spectroscopy (BIS). Baseline measures were taken in October 2014, annual mass drug administration (MDA) of PC was delivered in December and in March 2015, and further PC was offered to LF-positive cases who had missed MDA. Follow-up measures were taken in February and June 2015.
RESULTS: 50 antigen-positive cases and 46 antigen-negative controls were included. Self-reported PC consumption was 60.1% during 2014 MDA and 66.2% overall. At second follow-up, 24 of 34 cases and 27 of 43 controls had consumed PC. Significant and clinically relevant between-group differences at baseline were not found post-PC. Bayesian linear mixed models showed a significant change in Indurometer scores at both calves for antigen-positive cases who consumed any PC (Dominant calf: -0.30 [95% CI -0.52, -0.07], p<0.05, non-dominant calf: -0.35 [95% CI -0.58, -0.12], p<0.01). Changes in antigen negative participants or those not consuming PC were not significant.
CONCLUSION: This study is the first attempt to use simple field-friendly tools to track connective tissue changes after treatment of asymptomatic people infected with LF. Results suggested that PC alone is sufficient to reverse covert lymphatic disturbance. Longer follow-up of larger cohorts is required to confirm these improvements and whether they persist over time. These findings should prompt increased efforts to overcome low PC coverage, which misses many infected young people, particularly males, who are unaware of their infection status, unmotivated to take PC and at risk of developing lymphoedema. Indurometry and BIS should be considered in assessment of lymphatic filariasis-related lymphoedema. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.