Are the necessary tools available now?
For treatment – Yes!
Albendazole is one of the most widely used antiparasite drugs for curing intestinal worm infections of children, and when co-administered as a single treatment with either of the older anti-filarial drugs, DEC or invermectin, it also enhances the ability of these drugs to stop the spread of filarial infection.
- Cost = 0 (donated by its developer, SmithKline Beecham, plc)
Developed over 50 years ago, DEC is inexpensive, safe and effective. A single annual dose can reduce microfilariae by 90% for at least one year. If DEC is given in combination with albendazole or ivermectin, effectiveness is greatly enhanced and transmission can be dramatically interrupted. Unfortunately, DEC cannot be used to treat lymphatic filariasis in most of Africa because of severe side-reactions when certain other infections are also present.
- Cost = US $0.02/person/year
A drug that is safe and easy to use. A single dose quickly kills immature forms of the filarial worms (microfilariae) within the human body and when used with albendazole or DEC dramatically reduces transmission of the disease for at least one year. Millions of people in Africa and the Americas are already receiving ivermectin (Mectizan®) annually for treatment of a related infection, river blindness (onchocerciasis)
- Cost = Not yet determined. Ivermectin just recently received regulatory approval for the treatment of lymphatic filariasis.
Common edible salt can be fortified easily and cheaply with DEC. The drug is very stable, survives cooking and is tasteless. Small amounts taken over a period of months to years can eliminate microfiliariae and interrupt transmission completely.
- Cost = US $0.30/person/year
For diagnosis – yes!
Circulating Filarial Antigen (CFA) Test
A new simple test to diagnose infection. It can be performed on a finger-prick blood droplet taken at any time of day and gives results in a few minutes. It replaces the costly, awkward, unpopular, night-time blood sampling and microscopic examination that used to be the only way to determine infection since microfilariae in most parts of the world are found in the blood only near midnight!
- Cost = US $1/test