Survey of Schistosomiasis in Saint Lucia: Evidence for Interruption of Transmission

Saint Lucia at one time had levels of schistosomiasis prevalence and morbidity as high as many countries in Africa. However, as a result of control efforts and economic development, including more widespread access to sanitation and safe water, schistosomiasis on the island has practically disappeared. To evaluate the current status of schistosomiasis in Saint Lucia, we conducted a nationally representative school-based survey of 8-11-year-old children for prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni infections using circulating antigen and specific antibody detection methods. We also conducted a questionnaire about available water sources, sanitation, and contact with fresh water. The total population of 8-11-year-old children on Saint Lucia was 8,985; of these, 1,487 (16.5%) provided urine for antigen testing, 1,455 (16.2%) provided fingerstick blood for antibody testing, and 1,536 (17.1%) answered the questionnaire. Although a few children were initially low positives by antigen or antibody detection methods, none could be confirmed positive by follow-up testing. Most children reported access to clean water and sanitary facilities in or near their homes and 48% of the children reported contact with fresh water. Together, these data suggest that schistosomiasis transmission has been interrupted on Saint Lucia. Additional surveys of adults, snails, and a repeat survey among school-age children will be necessary to verify these findings. However, in the same way that research on Saint Lucia generated the data leading to use of mass drug administration for schistosomiasis control, the island may also provide the information needed for guidelines to verify interruption of schistosomiasis transmission.

Janice Gaspard, Madelaine M. Usey, Merlene Fredericks-James, Maria J. Sanchez, Lydia Atkins, Carl H. Campbell Jr., Paul L. A. M. Corstjens, Govert J. van Dam, Daniel G. Colley and William Evan Secor. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Feb 10. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.19-0904

Leave a Reply