What is it about?

Screening humans to detect parasites in the blood is invasive and expensive at large scale. Recently, however, several studies have demonstrated the potential of collecting wild blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes and screening them for the presence of human blood-borne parasites. To explore the potential of mosquito screening as a non-invasive tool for loiasis surveillance, we collected mosquitoes in a known loiasis transmission area in Cameroon. We tested the samples for parasites that cause loiasis, and concurrently screened for the parasites that cause malaria, LF and mansonellosis to determine the potential for integrated disease surveillance. The DNA of all four parasites were identified using these methods. The findings suggest mosquito screening may provide a useful tool for the surveillance of loiasis alongside other parasitic diseases. Screening mosquitoes has potential to be a sustainable and scalable method for surveillance of loiasis, due to its potential for integrated surveillance with existing malaria programmes and other neglected tropical diseases

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Why is it important?

Loiasis is a typically-mild filarial worm disease, but individuals with heavy loiasis infections are at risk of severe adverse events when treated with drugs used for the control of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. As these drugs are typically administered to entire populations in at-risk areas, the absence of loiasis transmission must be confirmed prior to distribution. Accurate loiasis surveillance is therefore critical to the safe implementation of these programmes. However, current tools for loiasis surveillance are very limited.


Writing this article was a great pleasure as I was able to work with some excellent collaborators at Smith College, Massachusetts and the Centre for Research of Infectious Diseases in Cameroon. Finding Loa loa parasite DNA in a relatively small sample of mosquitoes in this pilot study was very interesting, as it highlights the potential sensitivity of this method for loiasis surveillance, although further research is needed in this area to validate the findings.

Joe Pryce
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Integrated xenosurveillance of Loa loa, Wuchereria bancrofti, Mansonella perstans and Plasmodium falciparum using mosquito carcasses and faeces: A pilot study in Cameroon, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, November 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010868.
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