Professor Lisa J White

Research Area: Bioinformatics & Stats (inc. Modelling and Computational Biology)
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: Mathematical modelling, Malaria and Anti-microbial resistance

I am currently the head of an Oxford University mathematical and economic modelling (MAEMOD) group based in Thailand at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit whose research focus is on tropical infections and primarily malaria. MAEMOD coordinates an international network of infectious disease modellers and modelling research beneficiaries working in the Tropics (TDModNet). My work on malaria combines within and between host infection models with multi-strain/species modelling to consider the characterisation, emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance and its containment. I have strong collaborative links with the National Center of Malaria Control (CNM) in Cambodia and members of the WHO concerned with the containment of artemisinin resistance in its focus in Western Cambodia. I was also an active member of Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) an international consultative initiative aimed at identifying current knowledge gaps and new tools needed for malaria eradication. I am now developing mathematical models to be used as tools for national and international malaria elimination strategy design in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. A large part of this approach will be to build capacity in the region for performing mathematical modelling research and for policymakers to access these new human resources effectively.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Ben Cooper Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Sir Nicholas J White FRS Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Nicholas PJ Day FMedSci FRCP Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor François H Nosten Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Mae Sot Thailand
Professor Adrianus Dondorp Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Tun STT, von Seidlein L, Pongvongsa T, Mayxay M, Saralamba S, Kyaw SS, Chanthavilay P, Celhay O, Nguyen TD, Tran TN-A et al. 2017. Towards malaria elimination in Savannakhet, Lao PDR: mathematical modelling driven strategy design. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 483. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The number of Plasmodium falciparum malaria cases around the world has decreased substantially over the last 15 years, but with the spread of resistance against anti-malarial drugs and insecticides, this decline may not continue. There is an urgent need to consider alternative, accelerated strategies to eliminate malaria in countries like Lao PDR, where there are a few remaining endemic areas. A deterministic compartmental modelling tool was used to develop an integrated strategy for P. falciparum elimination in the Savannakhet province of Lao PDR. The model was designed to include key aspects of malaria transmission and integrated control measures, along with a user-friendly interface. RESULTS: Universal coverage was the foundation of the integrated strategy, which took the form of the deployment of community health workers who provided universal access to early diagnosis, treatment and long-lasting insecticidal nets. Acceleration was included as the deployment of three monthly rounds of mass drug administration targeted towards high prevalence villages, with the addition of three monthly doses of the RTS,S vaccine delivered en masse to the same high prevalence sub-population. A booster dose of vaccine was added 1 year later. The surveillance-as-intervention component of the package involved the screening and treatment of individuals entering the simulated population. CONCLUSIONS: In this modelling approach, the sequential introduction of a series of five available interventions in an integrated strategy was predicted to be sufficient to stop malaria transmission within a 3-year period. These interventions comprised universal access to early diagnosis and adequate treatment, improved access to long-lasting insecticidal nets, three monthly rounds of mass drug administration together with RTS,S vaccination followed by a booster dose of vaccine, and screening and treatment of imported cases.

Cao P, Klonis N, Zaloumis S, Dogovski C, Xie SC, Saralamba S, White LJ, Fowkes FJI, Tilley L, Simpson JA, McCaw JM. 2017. A Dynamic Stress Model Explains the Delayed Drug Effect in Artemisinin Treatment of Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 61 (12), pp. AAC.00618-17-AAC.00618-17. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin resistance constitutes a major threat to the continued success of control programs for malaria, particularly in light of developing resistance to partner drugs. Improving our understanding of how artemisinin-based drugs act and how resistance manifests is essential for the optimization of dosing regimens and the development of strategies to prolong the life span of current first-line treatment options. Recent short-drug-pulse in vitro experiments have shown that the parasite killing rate depends not only on drug concentration but also the exposure time, challenging the standard pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) paradigm in which the killing rate depends only on drug concentration. Here, we introduce a dynamic stress model of parasite killing and show through application to 3D7 laboratory strain viability data that the inclusion of a time-dependent parasite stress response dramatically improves the model's explanatory power compared to that of a traditional PK-PD model. Our model demonstrates that the previously reported hypersensitivity of early-ring-stage parasites of the 3D7 strain to dihydroartemisinin compared to other parasite stages is due primarily to a faster development of stress rather than a higher maximum achievable killing rate. We also perform in vivo simulations using the dynamic stress model and demonstrate that the complex temporal features of artemisinin action observed in vitro have a significant impact on predictions for in vivo parasite clearance. Given the important role that PK-PD models play in the design of clinical trials for the evaluation of alternative drug dosing regimens, our novel model will contribute to the further development and improvement of antimalarial therapies.

Brady OJ, Slater HC, Pemberton-Ross P, Wenger E, Maude RJ, Ghani AC, Penny MA, Gerardin J, White LJ, Chitnis N et al. 2017. Model citizen - Authors' reply. Lancet Glob Health, 5 (10), pp. e974. | Read more

Brady OJ, Slater HC, Pemberton-Ross P, Wenger E, Maude RJ, Ghani AC, Penny MA, Gerardin J, White LJ, Chitnis N et al. 2017. Role of mass drug administration in elimination of Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a consensus modelling study. Lancet Glob Health, 5 (7), pp. e680-e687. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mass drug administration for elimination of Plasmodium falciparum malaria is recommended by WHO in some settings. We used consensus modelling to understand how to optimise the effects of mass drug administration in areas with low malaria transmission. METHODS: We collaborated with researchers doing field trials to establish a standard intervention scenario and standard transmission setting, and we input these parameters into four previously published models. We then varied the number of rounds of mass drug administration, coverage, duration, timing, importation of infection, and pre-administration transmission levels. The outcome of interest was the percentage reduction in annual mean prevalence of P falciparum parasite rate as measured by PCR in the third year after the final round of mass drug administration. FINDINGS: The models predicted differing magnitude of the effects of mass drug administration, but consensus answers were reached for several factors. Mass drug administration was predicted to reduce transmission over a longer timescale than accounted for by the prophylactic effect alone. Percentage reduction in transmission was predicted to be higher and last longer at lower baseline transmission levels. Reduction in transmission resulting from mass drug administration was predicted to be temporary, and in the absence of scale-up of other interventions, such as vector control, transmission would return to pre-administration levels. The proportion of the population treated in a year was a key determinant of simulated effectiveness, irrespective of whether people are treated through high coverage in a single round or new individuals are reached by implementation of several rounds. Mass drug administration was predicted to be more effective if continued over 2 years rather than 1 year, and if done at the time of year when transmission is lowest. INTERPRETATION: Mass drug administration has the potential to reduce transmission for a limited time, but is not an effective replacement for existing vector control. Unless elimination is achieved, mass drug administration has to be repeated regularly for sustained effect. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Drake TL, Lubell Y, Kyaw SS, Devine A, Kyaw MP, Day NPJ, Smithuis FM, White LJ. 2017. Geographic Resource Allocation Based on Cost Effectiveness: An Application to Malaria Policy. Appl Health Econ Health Policy, 15 (3), pp. 299-306. | Show Abstract | Read more

Healthcare services are often provided to a country as a whole, though in many cases the available resources can be more effectively targeted to specific geographically defined populations. In the case of malaria, risk is highly geographically heterogeneous, and many interventions, such as insecticide-treated bed nets and malaria community health workers, can be targeted to populations in a way that maximises impact for the resources available. This paper describes a framework for geographically targeted budget allocation based on the principles of cost-effectiveness analysis and applied to priority setting in malaria control and elimination. The approach can be used with any underlying model able to estimate intervention costs and effects given relevant local data. Efficient geographic targeting of core malaria interventions could significantly increase the impact of the resources available, accelerating progress towards elimination. These methods may also be applicable to priority setting in other disease areas.

Pan-Ngum W, Kinyanjui T, Kiti M, Taylor S, Toussaint J-F, Saralamba S, Van Effelterre T, Nokes DJ, White LJ. 2017. Predicting the relative impacts of maternal and neonatal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine target product profiles: A consensus modelling approach. Vaccine, 35 (2), pp. 403-409. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major viral cause of infant and childhood lower respiratory tract disease worldwide. Defining the optimal target product profile (TPP) is complicated due to a wide range of possible vaccine properties, modalities and an incomplete understanding of the mechanism of natural immunity. We report consensus population level impact projections based on two mathematical models applied to a low income setting. METHOD: Two structurally distinct age-specific deterministic compartmental models reflecting uncertainty associated with the natural history of infection and the mechanism by which immunity is acquired and lost were constructed. A wide range of vaccine TPPs were explored including dosing regime and uptake, and effects in the vaccinated individual on infectiousness, susceptibility, duration of protection, disease severity and interaction with maternal antibodies and natural induced immunity. These were combined with a range of vaccine implementation strategies, targeting the highest priority age group and calibrated using hospitalization data from Kilifi County Hospital, Kenya. FINDINGS: Both models were able to reproduce the data. The impact predicted by the two models was qualitatively similar across the range of TPPs, although one model consistently predicted higher impact than the other. For a proposed realistic range of scenarios of TPP combinations, the models predicted up to 70% reduction in hospitalizations in children under five years old. Vaccine designs which reduced the duration and infectiousness of infection were predicted to have higher impacts. The models were sensitive to the coverage and rate of loss of vaccine protection but not to the interaction between vaccine and maternal/naturally acquired immunity. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that vaccine properties leading to reduced virus circulation by lessening the duration and infectiousness of infection upon challenge are of major importance in population RSV disease control. These features should be a focus for vaccine development.

Tun STT, Lubell Y, Dondorp AM, Fieldman T, Tun KM, Celhay O, Chan XH, Saralamba S, White LJ. 2017. Identifying artemisinin resistance from parasite clearance half-life data with a simple Shiny web application. PLoS One, 12 (5), pp. e0177840. | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major threat to malaria elimination. New tools for supporting the surveillance of artemisinin resistance are critical for current and future malaria control and elimination strategies. We have developed an open-access, user-friendly, web-based tool to analyse parasite clearance half-life data of P. falciparum infected patients after treatment with artemisinin derivatives, so that resistance to artemisinin can be identified. The tool can be accessed at bit.ly/id_artemisinin_resistance.

Parker DM, Landier J, von Seidlein L, Dondorp A, White L, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Maude RJ, Nosten FH. 2016. Limitations of malaria reactive case detection in an area of low and unstable transmission on the Myanmar-Thailand border. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 571. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Reactive case detection is an approach that has been proposed as a tool for malaria elimination in low-transmission settings. It is an intuitively justified approach based on the concept of space-time clustering of malaria cases. When an index malaria clinical case is detected, it triggers reactive screening and treatment in the index house and neighbouring houses. However, the efficacy of this approach at varying screening radii and malaria prevalence remains ill defined. METHODS: Data were obtained from a detailed demographic and geographic surveillance study in four villages on the Myanmar-Thailand border. Clinical cases were recorded at village malaria clinics and were linked back to patients' residencies. These data were used to simulate the efficacy of reactive case detection for clinical cases using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). Simulations took clinical cases in a given month and tabulated the number of cases that would have been detected in the following month at varying screening radii around the index houses. Simulations were run independently for both falciparum and vivax malaria. Each simulation of a reactive case detection effort was run in comparison with a strategy using random selection of houses for screening. RESULTS: In approximately half of the screenings for falciparum and 10% for vivax it would have been impossible to detect any malaria cases regardless of the screening strategy because the screening would have occurred during times when there were no cases. When geographically linked cases were present in the simulation, reactive case detection would have only been successful at detecting most malaria cases using larger screening radii (150-m radius and above). At this screening radius and above, reactive case detection does not perform better than random screening of an equal number of houses in the village. Screening within very small radii detects only a very small proportion of cases, but despite this low performance is better than random screening with the same sample size. CONCLUSIONS: The results of these simulations indicate that reactive case detection for clinical cases using RDTs has limited ability in halting transmission in regions of low and unstable transmission. This is linked to high spatial heterogeneity of cases, acquisition of malaria infections outside the village, as well missing asymptomatic infections. When cases are few and sporadic, reactive case detection would result in major time and budgetary losses.

Poovorawan K, Pan-Ngum W, White LJ, Soonthornworasiri N, Wilairatana P, Wasitthankasem R, Tangkijvanich P, Poovorawan Y. 2016. Estimating the Impact of Expanding Treatment Coverage and Allocation Strategies for Chronic Hepatitis C in a Direct Antiviral Agent Era. PLoS One, 11 (9), pp. e0163095. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important worldwide public health problem, and most of the global HCV burden is in low- to middle-income countries. This study aimed to estimate the future burden of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and the impact of public health policies using novel antiviral agents in Thailand. A mathematical model of CHC transmission dynamics was constructed to examine the disease burden over the next 20 years using different treatment strategies. We compared and evaluated the current treatment (PEGylated interferon and ribavirin) with new treatments using novel direct-acting antiviral agents among various treatment policies. Thailand's CHC prevalence was estimated to decrease 1.09%-0.19% in 2015-2035. Expanding treatment coverage (i.e., a five-fold increment in treatment accessibility) was estimated to decrease cumulative deaths (33,007 deaths avoided, 25.5% reduction) from CHC-related decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The yearly incidence of HCC-associated HCV was estimated to decrease from 2,305 to 1,877 cases yearly with expanding treatment coverage. A generalized treatment scenario (i.e., an equal proportional distribution of available treatment to individuals at all disease stages according to the number of cases at each stage) was predicted to further reduce death from HCC (9,170 deaths avoided, 11.3% reduction) and the annual incidence of HCC (i.e., a further decrease from 1,877 to 1,168 cases yearly, 37.7% reduction), but cumulative deaths were predicted to increase (by 3,626 deaths, 3.7% increase). Based on the extensive coverage scenario and the generalized treatment scenario, we estimated near-zero death from decompensated cirrhosis in 2031. In conclusion, CHC-related morbidity and mortality in Thailand are estimated to decrease dramatically over the next 20 years. Treatment coverage and allocation strategies are important factors that affect the future burden of CHC in resource-limited countries like Thailand.

Drake TL, Devine A, Yeung S, Day NPJ, White LJ, Lubell Y. 2016. Dynamic Transmission Economic Evaluation of Infectious Disease Interventions in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Literature Review. Health Econ, 25 Suppl 1 pp. 124-139. | Show Abstract | Read more

Economic evaluation using dynamic transmission models is important for capturing the indirect effects of infectious disease interventions. We examine the use of these methods in low- and middle-income countries, where infectious diseases constitute a major burden. This review is comprised of two parts: (1) a summary of dynamic transmission economic evaluations across all disease areas published between 2011 and mid-2014 and (2) an in-depth review of mosquito-borne disease studies focusing on health economic methods and reporting. Studies were identified through a systematic search of the MEDLINE database and supplemented by reference list screening. Fifty-seven studies were eligible for inclusion in the all-disease review. The most common subject disease was HIV/AIDS, followed by malaria. A diverse range of modelling methods, outcome metrics and sensitivity analyses were used, indicating little standardisation. Seventeen studies were included in the mosquito-borne disease review. With notable exceptions, most studies did not employ economic evaluation methods beyond calculating a cost-effectiveness ratio or net benefit. Many did not adhere to health care economic evaluations reporting guidelines, particularly with respect to full model reporting and uncertainty analysis. We present a summary of the state-of-the-art and offer recommendations for improved implementation and reporting of health economic methods in this crossover discipline.

Chanthavilay P, Reinharz D, Mayxay M, Phongsavan K, Marsden DE, Moore L, White LJ. 2016. Economic Evaluation of Screening Strategies Combined with HPV Vaccination of Preadolescent Girls for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer in Vientiane, Lao PDR. PLoS One, 11 (9), pp. e0162915. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Several approaches to reduce the incidence of invasive cervical cancers exist. The approach adopted should take into account contextual factors that influence the cost-effectiveness of the available options. OBJECTIVE: To determine the cost-effectiveness of screening strategies combined with a vaccination program for 10-year old girls for cervical cancer prevention in Vientiane, Lao PDR. METHODS: A population-based dynamic compartment model was constructed. The interventions consisted of a 10-year old girl vaccination program only, or this program combined with screening strategies, i.e., visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), cytology-based screening, rapid human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing, or combined VIA and cytology testing. Simulations were run over 100 years. In base-case scenario analyses, we assumed a 70% vaccination coverage with lifelong protection and a 50% screening coverage. The outcome of interest was the incremental cost per Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) averted. RESULTS: In base-case scenarios, compared to the next best strategy, the model predicted that VIA screening of women aged 30-65 years old every three years, combined with vaccination, was the most attractive option, costing 2 544 international dollars (I$) per DALY averted. Meanwhile, rapid HPV DNA testing was predicted to be more attractive than cytology-based screening or its combination with VIA. Among cytology-based screening options, combined VIA with conventional cytology testing was predicted to be the most attractive option. Multi-way sensitivity analyses did not change the results. Compared to rapid HPV DNA testing, VIA had a probability of cost-effectiveness of 73%. Compared to the vaccination only option, the probability that a program consisting of screening women every five years would be cost-effective was around 60% and 80% if the willingness-to-pay threshold is fixed at one and three GDP per capita, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: A VIA screening program in addition to a girl vaccination program was predicted to be the most attractive option in the health care context of Lao PDR. When compared with other screening methods, VIA was the primary recommended method for combination with vaccination in Lao PDR.

Chanthavilay P, Reinharz D, Mayxay M, Phongsavan K, Marsden DE, Moore L, White LJ. 2016. The economic evaluation of human papillomavirus vaccination strategies against cervical cancer in women in Lao PDR: a mathematical modelling approach. BMC Health Serv Res, 16 (1), pp. 418. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer, a preventable disease, is the third leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). Since many cervical cancers are linked to human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, vaccination against this virus may lead to a reduction in these types of cancer. The study described here is the first to compare the cost-effectiveness of different HPV vaccination options in Lao PDR. METHODS: A dynamic compartment model was created. The model included routine screening activities already in place, as well as theoretical interventions that included a 10-year old girl-only vaccination programme combined with/without a 10-year old boy vaccination programme and/or a catch-up component. The simulation was run over 100 years. In base case analyses, we assumed 70 % vaccination coverage with lifelong protection and 100 % efficacy against HPV types 16/18. The outcomes of interest were the incremental cost per Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) averted. RESULTS: In base case analyses, according to the WHO definition of cost-effectiveness thresholds, vaccinating 10-year-old girls was very cost-effective. Adding a catch-up vaccination element for females aged 11-25 years was also very cost-effective, costing 1559 international dollars (I$) per DALY averted. Increasing the age limit of the catch-up vaccination component to 75 years old showed that this remained a cost-effective option (I$ 5840 per DALY averted). Adding a vaccination programme for 10-year-old boys was not found to be cost-effective unless a short time simulation (30 years or less) was considered, along with a catch-up vaccination component for both males and females. CONCLUSIONS: Adding a catch-up female vaccination component is more attractive than adding a 10-year-old boy vaccination component.

Lubell Y, Althaus T, Blacksell SD, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Pan-Ngum W, White LJ, Day NPJ, Newton PN. 2016. Modelling the Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Biomarker Tests as Compared with Pathogen-Specific Diagnostics in the Management of Undifferentiated Fever in Remote Tropical Settings. PLoS One, 11 (3), pp. e0152420. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria accounts for a small fraction of febrile cases in increasingly large areas of the malaria endemic world. Point-of-care tests to improve the management of non-malarial fevers appropriate for primary care are few, consisting of either diagnostic tests for specific pathogens or testing for biomarkers of host response that indicate whether antibiotics might be required. The impact and cost-effectiveness of these approaches are relatively unexplored and methods to do so are not well-developed. METHODS: We model the ability of dengue and scrub typhus rapid tests to inform antibiotic treatment, as compared with testing for elevated C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a biomarker of host-inflammation. Using data on causes of fever in rural Laos, we estimate the proportion of outpatients that would be correctly classified as requiring an antibiotic and the likely cost-effectiveness of the approaches. RESULTS: Use of either pathogen-specific test slightly increased the proportion of patients correctly classified as requiring antibiotics. CRP testing was consistently superior to the pathogen-specific tests, despite heterogeneity in causes of fever. All testing strategies are likely to result in higher average costs, but only the scrub typhus and CRP tests are likely to be cost-effective when considering direct health benefits, with median cost per disability adjusted life year averted of approximately $48 USD and $94 USD, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Testing for viral infections is unlikely to be cost-effective when considering only direct health benefits to patients. Testing for prevalent bacterial pathogens can be cost-effective, having the benefit of informing not only whether treatment is required, but also as to the most appropriate antibiotic; this advantage, however, varies widely in response to heterogeneity in causes of fever. Testing for biomarkers of host inflammation is likely to be consistently cost-effective despite high heterogeneity, and can also offer substantial reductions in over-use of antimicrobials in viral infections.

Kyaw SS, Drake T, Thi A, Kyaw MP, Hlaing T, Smithuis FM, White LJ, Lubell Y. 2016. Malaria community health workers in Myanmar: a cost analysis. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 41. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Myanmar has the highest malaria incidence and attributed mortality in South East Asia with limited healthcare infrastructure to manage this burden. Establishing malaria Community Health Worker (CHW) programmes is one possible strategy to improve access to malaria diagnosis and treatment, particularly in remote areas. Despite considerable donor support for implementing CHW programmes in Myanmar, the cost implications are not well understood. METHODS: An ingredients based micro-costing approach was used to develop a model of the annual implementation cost of malaria CHWs in Myanmar. A cost model was constructed based on activity centres comprising of training, patient malaria services, monitoring and supervision, programme management, overheads and incentives. The model takes a provider perspective. Financial data on CHWs programmes were obtained from the 2013 financial reports of the Three Millennium Development Goal fund implementing partners that have been working on malaria control and elimination in Myanmar. Sensitivity and scenario analyses were undertaken to outline parameter uncertainty and explore changes to programme cost for key assumptions. RESULTS: The range of total annual costs for the support of one CHW was US$ 966-2486. The largest driver of CHW cost was monitoring and supervision (31-60% of annual CHW cost). Other important determinants of cost included programme management (15-28% of annual CHW cost) and patient services (6-12% of annual CHW cost). Within patient services, malaria rapid diagnostic tests are the major contributor to cost (64% of patient service costs). CONCLUSION: The annual cost of a malaria CHW in Myanmar varies considerably depending on the context and the design of the programme, in particular remoteness and the approach to monitoring and evaluation. The estimates provide information to policy makers and CHW programme planners in Myanmar as well as supporting economic evaluations of their cost-effectiveness.

White LJ, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Simpson JA, Dwell SLM, Arunjerdja R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Correction to 'Estimation of gestational age from fundal height: a solution for resource-poor settings'. J R Soc Interface, 12 (113), pp. 20150978. | Read more

Slater HC, Ross A, Ouédraogo AL, White LJ, Nguon C, Walker PGT, Ngor P, Aguas R, Silal SP, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Assessing the impact of next-generation rapid diagnostic tests on Plasmodium falciparum malaria elimination strategies. Nature, 528 (7580), pp. S94-101. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mass-screen-and-treat and targeted mass-drug-administration strategies are being considered as a means to interrupt transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, the effectiveness of such strategies will depend on the extent to which current and future diagnostics are able to detect those individuals who are infectious to mosquitoes. We estimate the relationship between parasite density and onward infectivity using sensitive quantitative parasite diagnostics and mosquito feeding assays from Burkina Faso. We find that a diagnostic with a lower detection limit of 200 parasites per microlitre would detect 55% of the infectious reservoir (the combined infectivity to mosquitoes of the whole population weighted by how often each individual is bitten) whereas a test with a limit of 20 parasites per microlitre would detect 83% and 2 parasites per microlitre would detect 95% of the infectious reservoir. Using mathematical models, we show that increasing the diagnostic sensitivity from 200 parasites per microlitre (equivalent to microscopy or current rapid diagnostic tests) to 2 parasites per microlitre would increase the number of regions where transmission could be interrupted with a mass-screen-and-treat programme from an entomological inoculation rate below 1 to one of up to 4. The higher sensitivity diagnostic could reduce the number of treatment rounds required to interrupt transmission in areas of lower prevalence. We predict that mass-screen-and-treat with a highly sensitive diagnostic is less effective than mass drug administration owing to the prophylactic protection provided to uninfected individuals by the latter approach. In low-transmission settings such as those in Southeast Asia, we find that a diagnostic tool with a sensitivity of 20 parasites per microlitre may be sufficient for targeted mass drug administration because this diagnostic is predicted to identify a similar village population prevalence compared with that currently detected using polymerase chain reaction if treatment levels are high and screening is conducted during the dry season. Along with other factors, such as coverage, choice of drug, timing of the intervention, importation of infections, and seasonality, the sensitivity of the diagnostic can play a part in increasing the chance of interrupting transmission.

Drake TL, Kyaw SS, Kyaw MP, Smithuis FM, Day NPJ, White LJ, Lubell Y. 2015. Cost effectiveness and resource allocation of Plasmodium falciparum malaria control in Myanmar: a modelling analysis of bed nets and community health workers. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 376. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Funding for malaria control and elimination in Myanmar has increased markedly in recent years. While there are various malaria control tools currently available, two interventions receive the majority of malaria control funding in Myanmar: (1) insecticide-treated bed nets and (2) early diagnosis and treatment through malaria community health workers. This study aims to provide practical recommendations on how to maximize impact from investment in these interventions. METHODS: A simple decision tree is used to model intervention costs and effects in terms of years of life lost. The evaluation is from the perspective of the service provider and costs and effects are calculated in line with standard methodology. Sensitivity and scenario analysis are undertaken to identify key drivers of cost effectiveness. Standard cost effectiveness analysis is then extended via a spatially explicit resource allocation model. FINDINGS: Community health workers have the potential for high impact on malaria, particularly where there are few alternatives to access malaria treatment, but are relatively costly. Insecticide-treated bed nets are comparatively inexpensive and modestly effective in Myanmar, representing a low risk but modest return intervention. Unlike some healthcare interventions, bed nets and community health workers are not mutually exclusive nor are they necessarily at their most efficient when universally applied. Modelled resource allocation scenarios highlight that in this case there is no "one size fits all" cost effectiveness result. Health gains will be maximized by effective targeting of both interventions.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2015. Predicting the impact of border control on malaria transmission: a simulated focal screen and treat campaign Malaria Journal, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Silal et al. Background: South Africa is one of many countries committed to malaria elimination with a target of 2018 and all malaria-endemic provinces, including Mpumalanga, are increasing efforts towards this ambitious goal. The reduction of imported infections is a vital element of an elimination strategy, particularly if a country is already experiencing high levels of imported infections. Border control of malaria is one tool that may be considered. Methods: A metapopulation, non-linear stochastic ordinary differential equation model is used to simulate malaria transmission in Mpumalanga and Maputo province, Mozambique (the source of the majority of imported infections) to predict the impact of a focal screen and treat campaign at the Mpumalanga-Ma puto border. This campaign is simulated by nesting an individual-based model for the focal screen and treat campaign within the metapopulation transmission model. Results: The model predicts that such a campaign, simulated for different levels of resources, coverage and take-up rates with a variety of screening tools, will not eliminate malaria on its own, but will reduce transmission substantially. Making the campaign mandatory decreases transmission further though sub-patent infections are likely to remain undetected if the diagnostic tool is not adequately sensitive. Replacing screening and treating with mass drug administration results in substantially larger decreases as all (including sub-patent) infections are treated before movement into Mpumalanga. Conclusions: The reduction of imported cases will be vital to any future malaria control or elimination strategy. This simulation predicts that FSAT at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border will be unable to eliminate local malaria on its own, but may still play a key role in detecting and treating imported infections before they enter the country. Thus FSAT may form part of an integrated elimination strategy where a variety of interventions are employed together to achieve malaria elimination.

White LJ, Flegg JA, Phyo AP, Wiladpai-ngern JH, Bethell D, Plowe C, Anderson T, Nkhoma S, Nair S, Tripura R et al. 2015. Defining the in vivo phenotype of artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria: a modelling approach. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001823. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria has emerged in Southeast Asia, posing a major threat to malaria control. It is characterised by delayed asexual-stage parasite clearance, which is the reference comparator for the molecular marker 'Kelch 13' and in vitro sensitivity tests. However, current cut-off values denoting slow clearance based on the proportion of individuals remaining parasitaemic on the third day of treatment ('day-3'), or on peripheral blood parasite half-life, are not well supported. We here explore the parasite clearance distributions in an area of artemisinin resistance with the aim refining the in vivo phenotypic definitions. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Data from 1,518 patients on the Thai-Myanmar and Thai-Cambodian borders with parasite half-life assessments after artesunate treatment were analysed. Half-lives followed a bimodal distribution. A statistical approach was developed to infer the characteristics of the component distributions and their relative contribution to the composite mixture. A model representing two parasite subpopulations with geometric mean (IQR) parasite half-lives of 3.0 (2.4-3.9) hours and 6.50 (5.7-7.4) hours was consistent with the data. For individual patients, the parasite half-life provided a predicted likelihood of an artemisinin-resistant infection which depends on the population prevalence of resistance in that area. Consequently, a half-life where the probability is 0.5 varied between 3.5 and 5.5 hours. Using this model, the current 'day-3' cut-off value of 10% predicts the potential presence of artemisinin-resistant infections in most but not all scenarios. These findings are relevant to the low-transmission setting of Southeast Asia. Generalisation to a high transmission setting as in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa will need additional evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Characterisation of overlapping distributions of parasite half-lives provides quantitative insight into the relationship between parasite clearance and artemisinin resistance, as well as the predictive value of the 10% cut-off in 'day-3' parasitaemia. The findings are important for the interpretation of in vitro sensitivity tests and molecular markers for artemisinin resistance and for contextualising the 'day 3' threshold to account for initial parasitaemia and sample size.

Cooper BS, Boni MF, Pan-ngum W, Day NPJ, Horby PW, Olliaro P, Lang T, White NJ, White LJ, Whitehead J. 2015. Evaluating clinical trial designs for investigational treatments of Ebola virus disease. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001815. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Experimental treatments for Ebola virus disease (EVD) might reduce EVD mortality. There is uncertainty about the ability of different clinical trial designs to identify effective treatments, and about the feasibility of implementing individually randomised controlled trials during an Ebola epidemic. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A treatment evaluation programme for use in EVD was devised using a multi-stage approach (MSA) with two or three stages, including both non-randomised and randomised elements. The probabilities of rightly or wrongly recommending the experimental treatment, the required sample size, and the consequences for epidemic outcomes over 100 d under two epidemic scenarios were compared for the MSA, a sequential randomised controlled trial (SRCT) with up to 20 interim analyses, and, as a reference case, a conventional randomised controlled trial (RCT) without interim analyses. Assuming 50% 14-d survival in the population treated with the current standard of supportive care, all designs had similar probabilities of identifying effective treatments correctly, while the MSA was less likely to recommend treatments that were ineffective. The MSA led to a smaller number of cases receiving ineffective treatments and faster roll-out of highly effective treatments. For less effective treatments, the MSA had a high probability of including an RCT component, leading to a somewhat longer time to roll-out or rejection. Assuming 100 new EVD cases per day, the MSA led to between 6% and 15% greater reductions in epidemic mortality over the first 100 d for highly effective treatments compared to the SRCT. Both the MSA and SRCT led to substantially fewer deaths than a conventional RCT if the tested interventions were either highly effective or harmful. In the proposed MSA, the major threat to the validity of the results of the non-randomised components is that referral patterns, standard of care, or the virus itself may change during the study period in ways that affect mortality. Adverse events are also harder to quantify without a concurrent control group. CONCLUSIONS: The MSA discards ineffective treatments quickly, while reliably providing evidence concerning effective treatments. The MSA is appropriate for the clinical evaluation of EVD treatments.

Suwanpakdee S, Kaewkungwal J, White LJ, Asensio N, Ratanakorn P, Singhasivanon P, Day NPJ, Pan-Ngum W. 2015. Spatio-temporal patterns of leptospirosis in Thailand: is flooding a risk factor? Epidemiol Infect, 143 (10), pp. 2106-2115. | Show Abstract | Read more

We studied the temporal and spatial patterns of leptospirosis, its association with flooding and animal census data in Thailand. Flood data from 2010 to 2012 were extracted from spatial information taken from satellite images. The incidence rate ratio (IRR) was used to determine the relationship between spatio-temporal flooding patterns and the number of human leptospirosis cases. In addition, the area of flood coverage, duration of waterlogging, time lags between flood events, and a number of potential animal reservoirs were considered in a sub-analysis. There was no significant temporal trend of leptospirosis over the study period. Statistical analysis showed an inconsistent relationship between IRR and flooding across years and regions. Spatially, leptospirosis occurred repeatedly and predominantly in northeastern Thailand. Our findings suggest that flooding is less influential in leptospirosis transmission than previously assumed. High incidence of the disease in the northeastern region is explained by the fact that agriculture and animal farming are important economic activities in this area. The periodic rise and fall of reported leptospirosis cases over time might be explained by seasonal exposure from rice farming activities performed during the rainy season when flood events often occur. We conclude that leptospirosis remains an occupational disease in Thailand.

Adekunle AI, Pinkevych M, McGready R, Luxemburger C, White LJ, Nosten F, Cromer D, Davenport MP. 2015. Modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection and hypnozoite reactivation in vivo. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (3), pp. e0003595. | Show Abstract | Read more

The dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection is characterized by reactivation of hypnozoites at varying time intervals. The relative contribution of new P. vivax infection and reactivation of dormant liver stage hypnozoites to initiation of blood stage infection is unclear. In this study, we investigate the contribution of new inoculations of P. vivax sporozoites to primary infection versus reactivation of hypnozoites by modeling the dynamics of P. vivax infection in Thailand in patients receiving treatment for either blood stage infection alone (chloroquine), or the blood and liver stages of infection (chloroquine + primaquine). In addition, we also analysed rates of infection in a study in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where patients were treated with either artesunate, or artesunate + primaquine. Our results show that up to 96% of the P. vivax infection is due to hypnozoite reactivation in individuals living in endemic areas in Thailand. Similar analysis revealed the around 70% of infections in the PNG cohort were due to hypnozoite reactivation. We show how the age of the cohort, primaquine drug failure, and seasonality may affect estimates of the ratio of primary P. vivax infection to hypnozoite reactivation. Modeling of P. vivax primary infection and hypnozoite reactivation provides important insights into infection dynamics, and suggests that 90-96% of blood stage infections arise from hypnozoite reactivation. Major differences in infection kinetics between Thailand and PNG suggest the likelihood of drug failure in PNG.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2015. Hitting a Moving Target: A Model for Malaria Elimination in the Presence of Population Movement. PLoS One, 10 (12), pp. e0144990. | Show Abstract | Read more

South Africa is committed to eliminating malaria with a goal of zero local transmission by 2018. Malaria elimination strategies may be unsuccessful if they focus only on vector biology, and ignore the mobility patterns of humans, particularly where the majority of infections are imported. In the first study in Mpumalanga Province in South Africa designed for this purpose, a metapopulation model is developed to assess the impact of their proposed elimination-focused policy interventions. A stochastic, non-linear, ordinary-differential equation model is fitted to malaria data from Mpumalanga and neighbouring Maputo Province in Mozambique. Further scaling-up of vector control is predicted to lead to a minimal reduction in local infections, while mass drug administration and focal screening and treatment at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border are predicted to have only a short-lived impact. Source reduction in Maputo Province is predicted to generate large reductions in local infections through stemming imported infections. The mathematical model predicts malaria elimination to be possible only when imported infections are treated before entry or eliminated at the source suggesting that a regionally focused strategy appears needed, for achieving malaria elimination in Mpumalanga and South Africa.

Chanthavilay P, Mayxay M, Phongsavan K, Marsden DE, White LJ, Moore L, Reinharz D. 2015. Accuracy of Combined Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Cervical Cytology Testing as a Primary Screening Tool for Cervical Cancer: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 16 (14), pp. 5889-5897. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The performance of combined testing visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and cervical cytology tests might differ from one setting to another. The average estimate of the testing accuracy across studies is informative, but no meta-analysis has been carried out to assess this combined method. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to estimate the average sensitivity and specificity of the combined VIA and cervical cytology tests for the detection of cervical precancerous lesions. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis, according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Review of Diagnostic Test Accuracy. We considered two cases. In the either-positive result case, a positive result implies positivity in at least one of the tests. A negative result implies negativity in both tests. In the both-positive case, a positive result implies having both tests positive. Eligible studies were identified using Pubmed, Embase, Website of Science, CINHAL and COCRANE databases. True positive, false positive, false negative and true negative values were extracted. Estimates of sensitivity and specificity, positive and negative likelihood (LR) and diagnostic odds ratios (DOR) were pooled using a hierarchical random effect model. Hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristics (HSROC) were generated and heterogeneity was verified through covariates potentially influencing the diagnostic odds ratio. FINDINGS: Nine studies fulfilled inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Pooled estimates of the sensitivities of the combined tests in either-positive and both-positive cases were 0.87 (95% CI: 0.83-0.90) and 0.38 (95% CI: 0.29-0.48), respectively. Corresponding specificities were 0.79 (95% CI: 0.63-0.89) and 0.98 (95% CI: 0.96-0.99) respectively. The DORs of the combined tests in either-positive or both-positive result cases were 27.7 (95% CI: 12.5-61.5) and 52 (95% CI: 22.1-122.2), respectively. When including only articles without partial verification bias and also a high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia as a threshold of the disease, DOR of combined test in both-positive result cases remained the highest. However, DORs decreased to 12.1 (95% CI: 6.05-24.1) and 13.8 (95% CI: 7.92-23.9) in studies without partial verification bias for the combined tests in the either-positive and both-positive result cases, respectively. The screener, the place of study and the size of the population significantly influenced the DOR of combined tests in the both-positive result case in restriction analyses that considered only articles with CIN2+ as disease threshold. CONCLUSIONS: The combined test in the either-positive result case has a high sensitivity, but a low specificity. These results suggest that the combined test should be considered in developing countries as a primary screening test if facilities exist to confirm, through colposcopy and biopsy, a positive result.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2015. Predicting the impact of border control on malaria transmission: a simulated focal screen and treat campaign. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 268. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: South Africa is one of many countries committed to malaria elimination with a target of 2018 and all malaria-endemic provinces, including Mpumalanga, are increasing efforts towards this ambitious goal. The reduction of imported infections is a vital element of an elimination strategy, particularly if a country is already experiencing high levels of imported infections. Border control of malaria is one tool that may be considered. METHODS: A metapopulation, non-linear stochastic ordinary differential equation model is used to simulate malaria transmission in Mpumalanga and Maputo province, Mozambique (the source of the majority of imported infections) to predict the impact of a focal screen and treat campaign at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border. This campaign is simulated by nesting an individual-based model for the focal screen and treat campaign within the metapopulation transmission model. RESULTS: The model predicts that such a campaign, simulated for different levels of resources, coverage and take-up rates with a variety of screening tools, will not eliminate malaria on its own, but will reduce transmission substantially. Making the campaign mandatory decreases transmission further though sub-patent infections are likely to remain undetected if the diagnostic tool is not adequately sensitive. Replacing screening and treating with mass drug administration results in substantially larger decreases as all (including sub-patent) infections are treated before movement into Mpumalanga. CONCLUSIONS: The reduction of imported cases will be vital to any future malaria control or elimination strategy. This simulation predicts that FSAT at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border will be unable to eliminate local malaria on its own, but may still play a key role in detecting and treating imported infections before they enter the country. Thus FSAT may form part of an integrated elimination strategy where a variety of interventions are employed together to achieve malaria elimination.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Thomas KH, Rijken MJ, White LJ, Dwell SLM, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Pukrittayakamee S, Nosten F et al. 2015. Estimating Gestational Age in Late Presenters to Antenatal Care in a Resource-Limited Setting on the Thai-Myanmar Border. PLoS One, 10 (6), pp. e0131025. | Show Abstract | Read more

Estimating gestational age in resource-limited settings is prone to considerable inaccuracy because crown-rump length measured by ultrasound before 14 weeks gestation, the recommended method for estimating gestational age, is often unavailable. Judgements regarding provision of appropriate obstetric and neonatal care are dependent on accurate estimation of gestational age. We determined the accuracy of the Dubowitz Gestational Age Assessment, a population-specific symphysis-fundal height formula, and ultrasound biometry performed between 16 and 40 weeks gestation in estimating gestational age using pre-existing data from antenatal clinics of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the Thai-Myanmar border, where malaria is endemic. Two cohorts of women who gave birth to live singletons were analysed: 1) 250 women who attended antenatal care between July 2001 and May 2006 and had both ultrasound crown-rump length (reference) and a Dubowitz Gestational Age Assessment; 2) 975 women attending antenatal care between April 2007 and October 2010 who had ultrasound crown-rump length, symphysis-fundal measurements, and an additional study ultrasound (biparietal diameter and head circumference) randomly scheduled between 16 and 40 weeks gestation. Mean difference in estimated newborn gestational age between methods and 95% limits of agreement (LOA) were determined from linear mixed-effects models. The Dubowitz method and the symphysis-fundal height formula performed well in term newborns, but overestimated gestational age of preterms by 2.57 weeks (95% LOA: 0.49, 4.65) and 3.94 weeks (95% LOA: 2.50, 5.38), respectively. Biparietal diameter overestimated gestational age by 0.83 weeks (95% LOA: -0.93, 2.58). Head circumference underestimated gestational age by 0.39 weeks (95% LOA: -2.60, 1.82), especially if measured after 24 weeks gestation. The results of this study can be used to quantify biases associated with alternative methods for estimating gestational age in the absence of ultrasound crown-rump length to inform critical clinical judgements in this population, and as a point of reference elsewhere.

Suwanpakdee S, Kaewkungwal J, White LJ, Asensio N, Ratanakorn P, Singhasivanon P, Day NPJ, Pan-Ngum W. 2015. Spatio-temporal patterns of leptospirosis in Thailand: Is flooding a risk factor? Epidemiology and Infection, 143 (10), pp. 2106-2115. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Cambridge University Press. We studied the temporal and spatial patterns of leptospirosis, its association with flooding and animal census data in Thailand. Flood data from 2010 to 2012 were extracted from spatial information taken from satellite images. The incidence rate ratio (IRR) was used to determine the relationship between spatio-temporal flooding patterns and the number of human leptospirosis cases. In addition, the area of flood coverage, duration of waterlogging, time lags between flood events, and a number of potential animal reservoirs were considered in a sub-analysis. There was no significant temporal trend of leptospirosis over the study period. Statistical analysis showed an inconsistent relationship between IRR and flooding across years and regions. Spatially, leptospirosis occurred repeatedly and predominantly in northeastern Thailand. Our findings suggest that flooding is less influential in leptospirosis transmission than previously assumed. High incidence of the disease in the northeastern region is explained by the fact that agriculture and animal farming are important economic activities in this area. The periodic rise and fall of reported leptospirosis cases over time might be explained by seasonal exposure from rice farming activities performed during the rainy season when flood events often occur. We conclude that leptospirosis remains an occupational disease in Thailand.

Karl S, Li Wai Suen CSN, Unger HW, Ome-Kaius M, Mola G, White L, Wangnapi RA, Rogerson SJ, Mueller I. 2015. Preterm or not--an evaluation of estimates of gestational age in a cohort of women from Rural Papua New Guinea. PLoS One, 10 (5), pp. e0124286. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Knowledge of accurate gestational age is required for comprehensive pregnancy care and is an essential component of research evaluating causes of preterm birth. In industrialised countries gestational age is determined with the help of fetal biometry in early pregnancy. Lack of ultrasound and late presentation to antenatal clinic limits this practice in low-resource settings. Instead, clinical estimators of gestational age are used, but their accuracy remains a matter of debate. METHODS: In a cohort of 688 singleton pregnancies from rural Papua New Guinea, delivery gestational age was calculated from Ballard score, last menstrual period, symphysis-pubis fundal height at first visit and quickening as well as mid- and late pregnancy fetal biometry. Published models using sequential fundal height measurements and corrected last menstrual period to estimate gestational age were also tested. Novel linear models that combined clinical measurements for gestational age estimation were developed. Predictions were compared with the reference early pregnancy ultrasound (<25 gestational weeks) using correlation, regression and Bland-Altman analyses and ranked for their capability to predict preterm birth using the harmonic mean of recall and precision (F-measure). RESULTS: Average bias between reference ultrasound and clinical methods ranged from 0-11 days (95% confidence levels: 14-42 days). Preterm birth was best predicted by mid-pregnancy ultrasound (F-measure: 0.72), and neuromuscular Ballard score provided the least reliable preterm birth prediction (F-measure: 0.17). The best clinical methods to predict gestational age and preterm birth were last menstrual period and fundal height (F-measures 0.35). A linear model combining both measures improved prediction of preterm birth (F-measure: 0.58). CONCLUSIONS: Estimation of gestational age without ultrasound is prone to significant error. In the absence of ultrasound facilities, last menstrual period and fundal height are among the more reliable clinical measures. This study underlines the importance of strengthening ultrasound facilities and developing novel ways to estimate gestational age.

Maude RJ, Nguon C, Ly P, Bunkea T, Ngor P, Canavati de la Torre SE, White NJ, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White LJ, Chuor CM. 2014. Spatial and temporal epidemiology of clinical malaria in Cambodia 2004-2013. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 385. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has recently been identified on the Thailand-Cambodia border and more recently in parts of Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. There is concern that if this resistance were to spread, it would severely hamper malaria control and elimination efforts worldwide. Efforts are currently underway to intensify malaria control activities and ultimately eliminate malaria from Cambodia. To support these efforts, it is crucial to have a detailed picture of disease burden and its major determinants over time. METHODS: An analysis of spatial and temporal data on clinical malaria in Cambodia collected by the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) and the Department of Planning and Health Information, Ministry of Health Cambodia from 2004 to 2013 is presented. RESULTS: There has been a marked decrease of 81% in annual cases due to P. falciparum since 2009 coinciding with a rapid scale-up in village malaria workers (VMWs) and insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs). Concurrently, the number of cases with Plasmodium vivax has greatly increased. It is estimated that there were around 112,000 total cases in 2012, 2.8 times greater than the WHO estimate for that year, and 68,000 in 2013 (an annual parasite incidence (API) of 4.6/1000). With the scale-up of VMWs, numbers of patients presenting to government facilities did not fall and it appears likely that those who saw VMWs had previously accessed healthcare in the private sector. Malaria mortality has decreased, particularly in areas with VMWs. There has been a marked decrease in cases in parts of western Cambodia, especially in Pailin and Battambang Provinces. In the northeast, the fall in malaria burden has been more modest, this area having the highest API in 2013. CONCLUSION: The clinical burden of falciparum malaria in most areas of Cambodia has greatly decreased from 2009 to 2013, associated with roll-out of ITNs and VMWs. Numbers of cases with P. vivax have increased. Possible reasons for these trends are discussed and areas requiring further study are highlighted. Although malaria surveillance data are prone to collection bias and tend to underestimate disease burden, the finding of similar trends in two independent datasets in this study greatly increased the robustness of the findings.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2014. Towards malaria elimination in Mpumalanga, South Africa: a population-level mathematical modelling approach. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 297. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mpumalanga in South Africa is committed to eliminating malaria by 2018 and efforts are increasing beyond that necessary for malaria control. Differential Equation models may be used to study the incidence and spread of disease with an important benefit being the ability to enact exogenous change on the system to predict impact without committing any real resources. The model is a deterministic non-linear ordinary differential equation representation of the dynamics of the human population. The model is fitted to weekly data of treated cases from 2002 to 2008, and then validated with data from 2009 to 2012. Elimination-focused interventions such as the scale-up of vector control, mass drug administration, a focused mass screen and treat campaign and foreign source reduction are applied to the model to assess their potential impact on transmission. RESULTS: Scaling up vector control by 10% and 20% resulted in substantial predicted decreases in local infections with little impact on imported infections. Mass drug administration is a high impact but short-lived intervention with predicted decreases in local infections of less that one infection per year. However, transmission reverted to pre-intervention levels within three years. Focused mass screen and treat campaigns at border-entry points are predicted to result in a knock-on decrease in local infections through a reduction in the infectious reservoir. This knock-on decrease in local infections was also predicted to be achieved through foreign source reduction. Elimination was only predicted to be possible under the scenario of zero imported infections in Mpumalanga. CONCLUSIONS: A constant influx of imported infections show that vector control alone will not be able to eliminate local malaria as it is insufficient to interrupt transmission. Both mass interventions have a large and immediate impact. Yet in countries with a large migrant population, these interventions may fail due to the reintroduction of parasites and their impact may be short-lived. While all strategies (in isolation or combined) contributed to decreasing local infections, none was predicted to decrease local infections to zero. The number of imported infections highlights the importance of reducing imported infections at source, and a regional approach to malaria elimination.

Lubell Y, White L, Varadan S, Drake T, Yeung S, Cheah PY, Maude RJ, Dondorp A, Day NPJ, White NJ, Parker M. 2014. Ethics, economics, and the use of primaquine to reduce falciparum malaria transmission in asymptomatic populations. PLoS Med, 11 (8), pp. e1001704. | Show Abstract | Read more

Yoel Lubell and colleagues consider ethical and economic perspectives on mass drug administration of primaquine to limit transmission of P. falciparum malaria. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

Siddiqui MR, Cooper B, Cramond V, Thomson K, Pop-Stefanija B, de Weerdt S, White L. 2014. Unusual epidemiological characteristics of a prolonged hepatitis E outbreak in three refugee camps in South Sudan INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 21 pp. 225-225. | Read more

Lubell Y, Dondorp A, Guérin PJ, Drake T, Meek S, Ashley E, Day NPJ, White NJ, White LJ. 2014. Artemisinin resistance--modelling the potential human and economic costs. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 452. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination therapy is recommended as first-line treatment for falciparum malaria across the endemic world and is increasingly relied upon for treating vivax malaria where chloroquine is failing. Artemisinin resistance was first detected in western Cambodia in 2007, and is now confirmed in the Greater Mekong region, raising the spectre of a malaria resurgence that could undo a decade of progress in control, and threaten the feasibility of elimination. The magnitude of this threat has not been quantified. METHODS: This analysis compares the health and economic consequences of two future scenarios occurring once artemisinin-based treatments are available with high coverage. In the first scenario, artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is largely effective in the management of uncomplicated malaria and severe malaria is treated with artesunate, while in the second scenario ACT are failing at a rate of 30%, and treatment of severe malaria reverts to quinine. The model is applied to all malaria-endemic countries using their specific estimates for malaria incidence, transmission intensity and GDP. The model describes the direct medical costs for repeated diagnosis and retreatment of clinical failures as well as admission costs for severe malaria. For productivity losses, the conservative friction costing method is used, which assumes a limited economic impact for individuals that are no longer economically active until they are replaced from the unemployment pool. RESULTS: Using conservative assumptions and parameter estimates, the model projects an excess of 116,000 deaths annually in the scenario of widespread artemisinin resistance. The predicted medical costs for retreatment of clinical failures and for management of severe malaria exceed US$32 million per year. Productivity losses resulting from excess morbidity and mortality were estimated at US$385 million for each year during which failing ACT remained in use as first-line treatment. CONCLUSIONS: These 'ballpark' figures for the magnitude of the health and economic threat posed by artemisinin resistance add weight to the call for urgent action to detect the emergence of resistance as early as possible and contain its spread from known locations in the Mekong region to elsewhere in the endemic world.

Maude RJ, Nguon C, Dondorp AM, White LJ, White NJ. 2014. The diminishing returns of atovaquone-proguanil for elimination of Plasmodium falciparum malaria: modelling mass drug administration and treatment. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 380. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance is a major threat to current efforts to eliminate Plasmodium falciparum malaria which rely heavily on the continuing efficacy of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). It has been suggested that ACT should not be used in mass drug administration (MDA) in areas where artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum is prevalent, and that atovaquone-proguanil (A-P) might be a preferable alternative. However, a single point mutation in the cytochrome b gene confers high level resistance to atovaquone, and such mutant parasites arise frequently during treatment making A-P a vulnerable tool for elimination. METHODS: A deterministic, population level, mathematical model was developed based on data from Cambodia to explore the possible effects of large-scale use of A-P compared to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine ACT for mass drug administration and/or treatment of P. falciparum malaria, with and without adjunctive primaquine (PQ) and long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLIN). The aim was local elimination. RESULTS: The model showed the initial efficacy of ACT and A-P for MDA to be similar. However, each round of A-P MDA resulted in rapid acquisition and spread of atovaquone resistance. Even a single round of MDA could compromise efficacy sufficient to preclude its use for treatment or prophylaxis. A switch to A-P for treatment of symptomatic episodes resulted in a complete loss of efficacy in the population within four to five years of its introduction. The impact of MDA was temporary and a combination of maintained high coverage with ACT treatment for symptomatic individuals and LLIN was necessary for elimination. CONCLUSION: For malaria elimination, A-P for MDA or treatment of symptomatic cases should be avoided. A combined strategy of high coverage with ACT for treatment of symptomatic episodes, LLIN and ACT + P MDA would be preferable.

Lim C, Wannapinij P, White L, Day NPJ, Cooper BS, Peacock SJ, Limmathurotsakul D. 2013. Using a web-based application to define the accuracy of diagnostic tests when the gold standard is imperfect PLoS ONE, 8 (11), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Estimates of the sensitivity and specificity for new diagnostic tests based on evaluation against a known gold standard are imprecise when the accuracy of the gold standard is imperfect. Bayesian latent class models (LCMs) can be helpful under these circumstances, but the necessary analysis requires expertise in computational programming. Here, we describe open-access web-based applications that allow non-experts to apply Bayesian LCMs to their own data sets via a user-friendly interface. Methods/Principal Findings: Applications for Bayesian LCMs were constructed on a web server using R and WinBUGS programs. The models provided (http://mice.tropmedres.ac) include two Bayesian LCMs: the two-tests in two-population model (Hui and Walter model) and the three-tests in one-population model (Walter and Irwig model). Both models are available with simplified and advanced interfaces. In the former, all settings for Bayesian statistics are fixed as defaults. Users input their data set into a table provided on the webpage. Disease prevalence and accuracy of diagnostic tests are then estimated using the Bayesian LCM, and provided on the web page within a few minutes. With the advanced interfaces, experienced researchers can modify all settings in the models as needed. These settings include correlation among diagnostic test results and prior distributions for all unknown parameters. The web pages provide worked examples with both models using the original data sets presented by Hui and Walter in 1980, and by Walter and Irwig in 1988. We also illustrate the utility of the advanced interface using the Walter and Irwig model on a data set from a recent melioidosis study. The results obtained from the web-based applications were comparable to those published previously. Conclusions: The newly developed web-based applications are open-access and provide an important new resource for researchers worldwide to evaluate new diagnostic tests. © 2013 Lim et al.

Moore CE, Pan-Ngum W, Wijedoru LPM, Sona S, Nga TVT, Duy PT, Vinh PV, Chheng K, Kumar V, Emary K et al. 2014. Evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of a typhoid IgM flow assay for the diagnosis of typhoid fever in Cambodian children using a Bayesian latent class model assuming an imperfect gold standard. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 90 (1), pp. 114-120. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rapid diagnostic tests are needed for typhoid fever (TF) diagnosis in febrile children in endemic areas. Five hundred children admitted to the hospital in Cambodia between 2009 and 2010 with documented fever (≥ 38°C) were investigated using blood cultures (BCs), Salmonella Typhi/Paratyphi A real-time polymerase chain reactions (PCRs), and a Typhoid immunoglobulin M flow assay (IgMFA). Test performance was determined by conventional methods and Bayesian latent class modeling. There were 32 cases of TF (10 BC- and PCR-positive cases, 14 BC-positive and PCR-negative cases, and 8 BC-negative and PCR-positive cases). IgMFA sensitivity was 59.4% (95% confidence interval = 41-76), and specificity was 97.8% (95% confidence interval = 96-99). The model estimate sensitivity for BC was 81.0% (95% credible interval = 54-99). The model estimate sensitivity for PCR was 37.8% (95% credible interval = 26-55), with a specificity of 98.2% (95% credible interval = 97-99). The model estimate sensitivity for IgMFA (≥ 2+) was 77.9% (95% credible interval = 58-90), with a specificity of 97.5% (95% credible interval = 95-100). The model estimates of IgMFA sensitivity and specificity were comparable with BCs and better than estimates using conventional analysis.

Liverani M, Waage J, Barnett T, Pfeiffer DU, Rushton J, Rudge JW, Loevinsohn ME, Scoones I, Smith RD, Cooper BS et al. 2013. Understanding and managing zoonotic risk in the new livestock industries. Environ Health Perspect, 121 (8), pp. 873-877. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In many parts of the world, livestock production is undergoing a process of rapid intensification. The health implications of this development are uncertain. Intensification creates cheaper products, allowing more people to access animal-based foods. However, some practices associated with intensification may contribute to zoonotic disease emergence and spread: for example, the sustained use of antibiotics, concentration of animals in confined units, and long distances and frequent movement of livestock. OBJECTIVES: Here we present the diverse range of ecological, biological, and socioeconomic factors likely to enhance or reduce zoonotic risk, and identify ways in which a comprehensive risk analysis may be conducted by using an interdisciplinary approach. We also offer a conceptual framework to guide systematic research on this problem. DISCUSSION: We recommend that interdisciplinary work on zoonotic risk should take into account the complexity of risk environments, rather than limiting studies to simple linear causal relations between risk drivers and disease emergence and/or spread. In addition, interdisciplinary integration is needed at different levels of analysis, from the study of risk environments to the identification of policy options for risk management. CONCLUSION: Given rapid changes in livestock production systems and their potential health implications at the local and global level, the problem we analyze here is of great importance for environmental health and development. Although we offer a systematic interdisciplinary approach to understand and address these implications, we recognize that further research is needed to clarify methodological and practical questions arising from the integration of the natural and social sciences.

Lim C, Wannapinij P, White L, Day NPJ, Cooper BS, Peacock SJ, Limmathurotsakul D. 2013. Using a web-based application to define the accuracy of diagnostic tests when the gold standard is imperfect. PLoS One, 8 (11), pp. e79489. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Estimates of the sensitivity and specificity for new diagnostic tests based on evaluation against a known gold standard are imprecise when the accuracy of the gold standard is imperfect. Bayesian latent class models (LCMs) can be helpful under these circumstances, but the necessary analysis requires expertise in computational programming. Here, we describe open-access web-based applications that allow non-experts to apply Bayesian LCMs to their own data sets via a user-friendly interface. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Applications for Bayesian LCMs were constructed on a web server using R and WinBUGS programs. The models provided (http://mice.tropmedres.ac) include two Bayesian LCMs: the two-tests in two-population model (Hui and Walter model) and the three-tests in one-population model (Walter and Irwig model). Both models are available with simplified and advanced interfaces. In the former, all settings for Bayesian statistics are fixed as defaults. Users input their data set into a table provided on the webpage. Disease prevalence and accuracy of diagnostic tests are then estimated using the Bayesian LCM, and provided on the web page within a few minutes. With the advanced interfaces, experienced researchers can modify all settings in the models as needed. These settings include correlation among diagnostic test results and prior distributions for all unknown parameters. The web pages provide worked examples with both models using the original data sets presented by Hui and Walter in 1980, and by Walter and Irwig in 1988. We also illustrate the utility of the advanced interface using the Walter and Irwig model on a data set from a recent melioidosis study. The results obtained from the web-based applications were comparable to those published previously. CONCLUSIONS: The newly developed web-based applications are open-access and provide an important new resource for researchers worldwide to evaluate new diagnostic tests.

De Beaudrap P, Turyakira E, White LJ, Nabasumba C, Tumwebaze B, Muehlenbachs A, Guérin PJ, Boum Y, McGready R, Piola P. 2013. Impact of malaria during pregnancy on pregnancy outcomes in a Ugandan prospective cohort with intensive malaria screening and prompt treatment. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 139. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) is a major public health problem in endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa and has important consequences on birth outcome. Because MiP is a complex phenomenon and malaria epidemiology is rapidly changing, additional evidence is still required to understand how best to control malaria. This study followed a prospective cohort of pregnant women who had access to intensive malaria screening and prompt treatment to identify factors associated with increased risk of MiP and to analyse how various characteristics of MiP affect delivery outcomes. METHODS: Between October 2006 and May 2009, 1,218 pregnant women were enrolled in a prospective cohort. After an initial assessment, they were screened weekly for malaria. At delivery, blood smears were obtained from the mother, placenta, cord and newborn. Multivariate analyses were performed to analyse the association between mothers' characteristics and malaria risk, as well as between MiP and birth outcome, length and weight at birth. This study is a secondary analysis of a trial registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00495508. RESULTS: Overall, 288/1,069 (27%) mothers had 345 peripheral malaria infections. The risk of peripheral malaria was higher in mothers who were younger, infected with HIV, had less education, lived in rural areas or reported no bed net use, whereas the risk of placental infection was associated with more frequent malaria infections and with infection during late pregnancy. The risk of pre-term delivery and of miscarriage was increased in mothers infected with HIV, living in rural areas and with MiP occurring within two weeks of delivery.In adjusted analysis, birth weight but not length was reduced in babies of mothers exposed to MiP (-60 g, 95%CI: -120 to 0 for at least one infection and -150 g, 95%CI: -280 to -20 for >1 infections). CONCLUSIONS: In this study, the timing, parasitaemia level and number of peripherally-detected malaria infections, but not the presence of fever, were associated with adverse birth outcomes. Hence, prompt malaria detection and treatment should be offered to pregnant women regardless of symptoms or other preventive measures used during pregnancy, and with increased focus on mothers living in remote areas.

Pan-ngum W, Blacksell SD, Lubell Y, Pukrittayakamee S, Bailey MS, de Silva HJ, Lalloo DG, Day NPJ, White LJ, Limmathurotsakul D. 2013. Estimating the true accuracy of diagnostic tests for dengue infection using bayesian latent class models. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e50765. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Accuracy of rapid diagnostic tests for dengue infection has been repeatedly estimated by comparing those tests with reference assays. We hypothesized that those estimates might be inaccurate if the accuracy of the reference assays is not perfect. Here, we investigated this using statistical modeling. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data from a cohort study of 549 patients suspected of dengue infection presenting at Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, Sri Lanka, that described the application of our reference assay (a combination of Dengue IgM antibody capture ELISA and IgG antibody capture ELISA) and of three rapid diagnostic tests (Panbio NS1 antigen, IgM antibody and IgG antibody rapid immunochromatographic cassette tests) were re-evaluated using bayesian latent class models (LCMs). The estimated sensitivity and specificity of the reference assay were 62.0% and 99.6%, respectively. Prevalence of dengue infection (24.3%), and sensitivities and specificities of the Panbio NS1 (45.9% and 97.9%), IgM (54.5% and 95.5%) and IgG (62.1% and 84.5%) estimated by bayesian LCMs were significantly different from those estimated by assuming that the reference assay was perfect. Sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV for a combination of NS1, IgM and IgG cassette tests on admission samples were 87.0%, 82.8%, 62.0% and 95.2%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Our reference assay is an imperfect gold standard. In our setting, the combination of NS1, IgM and IgG rapid diagnostic tests could be used on admission to rule out dengue infection with a high level of accuracy (NPV 95.2%). Further evaluation of rapid diagnostic tests for dengue infection should include the use of appropriate statistical models.

Hendriksen ICE, White LJ, Veenemans J, Mtove G, Woodrow C, Amos B, Saiwaew S, Gesase S, Nadjm B, Silamut K et al. 2013. Defining falciparum-malaria-attributable severe febrile illness in moderate-to-high transmission settings on the basis of plasma PfHRP2 concentration. J Infect Dis, 207 (2), pp. 351-361. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In malaria-endemic settings, asymptomatic parasitemia complicates the diagnosis of malaria. Histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) is produced by Plasmodium falciparum, and its plasma concentration reflects the total body parasite burden. We aimed to define the malaria-attributable fraction of severe febrile illness, using the distributions of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 (PfHRP2) concentrations from parasitemic children with different clinical presentations. METHODS: Plasma samples were collected from and peripheral blood slides prepared for 1435 children aged 6-60 months in communities and a nearby hospital in northeastern Tanzania. The study population included children with severe or uncomplicated malaria, asymptomatic carriers, and healthy control subjects who had negative results of rapid diagnostic tests. The distributions of plasma PfHRP2 concentrations among the different groups were used to model severe malaria-attributable disease. RESULTS: The plasma PfHRP2 concentration showed a close correlation with the severity of infection. PfHRP2 concentrations of >1000 ng/mL denoted a malaria-attributable fraction of severe disease of 99% (95% credible interval [CI], 96%-100%), with a sensitivity of 74% (95% CI, 72%-77%), whereas a concentration of <200 ng/mL denoted severe febrile illness of an alternative diagnosis in >10% (95% CI, 3%-27%) of patients. Bacteremia was more common among patients in the lowest and highest PfHRP2 concentration quintiles. CONCLUSIONS: The plasma PfHRP2 concentration defines malaria-attributable disease and distinguishes severe malaria from coincidental parasitemia in African children in a moderate-to-high transmission setting.

Maude RJ, Hasan MU, Hossain MA, Sayeed AA, Kanti Paul S, Rahman W, Maude RR, Vaid N, Ghose A, Amin R et al. 2012. Temporal trends in severe malaria in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 323. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Epidemiological data on malaria in Bangladesh are sparse, particularly on severe and fatal malaria. This hampers the allocation of healthcare provision in this resource-poor setting. Over 85% of the estimated 150,000-250,000 annual malaria cases in Bangladesh occur in Chittagong Division with 80% in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) is the major tertiary referral hospital for severe malaria in Chittagong Division. METHODS: Malaria screening data from 22,785 inpatients in CMCH from 1999-2011 were analysed to investigate the patterns of referral, temporal trends and geographical distribution of severe malaria in Chittagong Division, Bangladesh. RESULTS: From 1999 till 2011, 2,394 malaria cases were admitted, of which 96% harboured Plasmodium falciparum and 4% Plasmodium vivax. Infection was commonest in males (67%) between 15 and 34 years of age. Seasonality of malaria incidence was marked with a single peak in P. falciparum transmission from June to August coinciding with peak rainfall, whereas P. vivax showed an additional peak in February-March possibly representing relapse infections. Since 2007 there has been a substantial decrease in the absolute number of admitted malaria cases. Case fatality in severe malaria was 18% from 2008-2011, remaining steady during this period.A travel history obtained in 226 malaria patients revealed only 33% had been to the CHT in the preceding three weeks. Of all admitted malaria patients, only 9% lived in the CHT, and none in the more remote malaria endemic regions near the Indian border. CONCLUSIONS: The overall decline in admitted malaria cases to CMCH suggests recent control measures are successful. However, there are no reliable data on the incidence of severe malaria in the CHT, the most endemic area of Bangladesh, and most of these patients do not reach tertiary health facilities. Improvement of early treatment and simple supportive care for severe malaria in remote areas and implementation of a referral system for cases requiring additional supportive care could be important contributors to further reducing malaria-attributable disease and death in Bangladesh.

Hendriksen ICE, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, von Seidlein L, Mtove G, White LJ, Olaosebikan R, Lee SJ, Tshefu AK, Woodrow C, Amos B et al. 2012. Diagnosing severe falciparum malaria in parasitaemic African children: a prospective evaluation of plasma PfHRP2 measurement. PLoS Med, 9 (8), pp. e1001297. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In African children, distinguishing severe falciparum malaria from other severe febrile illnesses with coincidental Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia is a major challenge. P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) is released by mature sequestered parasites and can be used to estimate the total parasite burden. We investigated the prognostic significance of plasma PfHRP2 and used it to estimate the malaria-attributable fraction in African children diagnosed with severe malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Admission plasma PfHRP2 was measured prospectively in African children (from Mozambique, The Gambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) aged 1 month to 15 years with severe febrile illness and a positive P. falciparum lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH)-based rapid test in a clinical trial comparing parenteral artesunate versus quinine (the AQUAMAT trial, ISRCTN 50258054). In 3,826 severely ill children, Plasmadium falciparum PfHRP2 was higher in patients with coma (p = 0.0209), acidosis (p<0.0001), and severe anaemia (p<0.0001). Admission geometric mean (95%CI) plasma PfHRP2 was 1,611 (1,350-1,922) ng/mL in fatal cases (n = 381) versus 1,046 (991-1,104) ng/mL in survivors (n = 3,445, p<0.0001), without differences in parasitaemia as assessed by microscopy. There was a U-shaped association between log(10) plasma PfHRP2 and risk of death. Mortality increased 20% per log(10) increase in PfHRP2 above 174 ng/mL (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.21, 95%CI 1.05-1.39, p = 0.009). A mechanistic model assuming a PfHRP2-independent risk of death in non-malaria illness closely fitted the observed data and showed malaria-attributable mortality less than 50% with plasma PfHRP2≤174 ng/mL. The odds ratio (OR) for death in artesunate versus quinine-treated patients was 0.61 (95%CI 0.44-0.83, p = 0.0018) in the highest PfHRP2 tertile, whereas there was no difference in the lowest tertile (OR 1.05; 95%CI 0.69-1.61; p = 0.82). A limitation of the study is that some conclusions are drawn from a mechanistic model, which is inherently dependent on certain assumptions. However, a sensitivity analysis of the model indicated that the results were robust to a plausible range of parameter estimates. Further studies are needed to validate our findings. CONCLUSIONS: Plasma PfHRP2 has prognostic significance in African children with severe falciparum malaria and provides a tool to stratify the risk of "true" severe malaria-attributable disease as opposed to other severe illnesses in parasitaemic African children.

Moore C, Pan-ngum W, Wijedoru L, Ngoun C, Pastoor R, Tran N, Soeng S, Kheng C, Kumar V, Emary K et al. 2012. Evaluation of a Typhoid IgM flow assay for the diagnosis of typhoid fever in Cambodian children using a Bayesian modelling approach assuming an imperfect gold standard INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E400-E401. | Read more

Durier N, Nguyen C, White LJ. 2012. Treatment of hepatitis C as prevention: a modeling case study in Vietnam. PLoS One, 7 (4), pp. e34548. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Treatment of hepatitis C (HCV) is very effective, achieving a cure in 50-90% of patients. Besides its own good for individuals, this most likely translates in reduced transmission, but this phenomenon has yet to be fully explored. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In this mathematical modeling study done in the context of Vietnam, we estimated the public health benefit that HCV therapy for injecting drug users (IDUs) may achieve. Treatment coverage of 25, 50 and 75% of chronically HCV-infected IDUs (4 years into infection) is predicted to reduce the chronic HCV viremia prevalence respectively by 21, 37 and 50%, 11 years after full scale up to the intended coverage. At a constant 50% coverage level, earlier treatment, 3, 2, and 1 year into infection is predicted to reduce the chronic HCV viremia prevalence by 46, 60 and 85%. In these later 3 scenarios, for every 100 treatment courses provided, a total of respectively 50, 61 and 94 new infections could be averted. These benefits were projected in the context of current low coverage of methadone maintenance therapy and needles/syringes exchange programs, and these services expansion showed complementary preventive benefits to HCV therapy. The program treatment commitment associated with the various scenarios is deemed reasonable. Our model projections are robust under adjustment for uncertainty in the model parameter values. CONCLUSIONS: In this case study in Vietnam, we project that treatment of HCV for injecting drug users will have a preventative herd effect in addition to curing patients in need for therapy, achieving a substantial reduction in HCV transmission and prevalence.

White LJ, Newton PN, Maude RJ, Pan-ngum W, Fried JR, Mayxay M, Maude RR, Day NPJ. 2012. Defining disease heterogeneity to guide the empirical treatment of febrile illness in resource poor settings. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e44545. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria incidence is in decline in many parts of SE Asia leading to a decreasing proportion of febrile illness that is attributable to malaria. However in the absence of rapid, affordable and accurate diagnostic tests, the non-malaria causes of these illnesses cannot be reliably identified. Studies on the aetiology of febrile illness have indicated that the causes are likely to vary by geographical location within countries (i.e. be spatially heterogeneous) and that national empirical treatment policies based on the aetiology measured in a single location could lead to inappropriate treatment. METHODS: Using data from Vientiane as a reference for the incidence of major febrile illnesses in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) and estimated incidences, plausible incidence in other Lao provinces were generated using a mathematical model for a range of national and local scale variations. For a range of treatment protocols, the mean number of appropriate treatments was predicted and the potential impact of a spatially explicit national empirical treatment protocol assessed. FINDINGS: The model predicted a negative correlation between number of appropriate treatments and the level of spatial heterogeneity. A spatially explicit national treatment protocol was predicted to increase the number of appropriate treatments by 50% for intermediate levels of spatial heterogeneity. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that given even only moderate spatial variation, a spatially explicit treatment algorithm will result in a significant improvement in the outcome of undifferentiated fevers in Laos and other similar resource poor settings.

Maude RJ, Socheat D, Nguon C, Saroth P, Dara P, Li G, Song J, Yeung S, Dondorp AM, Day NP et al. 2012. Optimising strategies for Plasmodium falciparum malaria elimination in Cambodia: primaquine, mass drug administration and artemisinin resistance. PLoS One, 7 (5), pp. e37166. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria elimination requires a variety of approaches individually optimized for different transmission settings. A recent field study in an area of low seasonal transmission in South West Cambodia demonstrated dramatic reductions in malaria parasite prevalence following both mass drug administration (MDA) and high treatment coverage of symptomatic patients with artemisinin-piperaquine plus primaquine. This study employed multiple combined strategies and it was unclear what contribution each made to the reductions in malaria. METHOD AND FINDINGS: A mathematical model fitted to the trial results was used to assess the effects of the various components of these interventions, design optimal elimination strategies, and explore their interactions with artemisinin resistance, which has recently been discovered in Western Cambodia. The modelling indicated that most of the initial reduction of P. falciparum malaria resulted from MDA with artemisinin-piperaquine. The subsequent continued decline and near elimination resulted mainly from high coverage with artemisinin-piperaquine treatment. Both these strategies were more effective with the addition of primaquine. MDA with artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) increased the proportion of artemisinin resistant infections, although much less than treatment of symptomatic cases with ACT, and this increase was slowed by adding primaquine. Artemisinin resistance reduced the effectiveness of interventions using ACT when the prevalence of resistance was very high. The main results were robust to assumptions about primaquine action, and immunity. CONCLUSIONS: The key messages of these modelling results for policy makers were: high coverage with ACT treatment can produce a long-term reduction in malaria whereas the impact of MDA is generally only short-term; primaquine enhances the effect of ACT in eliminating malaria and reduces the increase in proportion of artemisinin resistant infections; parasite prevalence is a better surveillance measure for elimination programmes than numbers of symptomatic cases; combinations of interventions are most effective and sustained efforts are crucial for successful elimination.

Peacock SJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Lubell Y, Koh GCKW, White LJ, Day NPJ, Titball RW. 2012. Melioidosis vaccines: a systematic review and appraisal of the potential to exploit biodefense vaccines for public health purposes. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 6 (1), pp. e1488. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Category B select agent and the cause of melioidosis. Research funding for vaccine development has largely considered protection within the biothreat context, but the resulting vaccines could be applicable to populations who are at risk of naturally acquired melioidosis. Here, we discuss target populations for vaccination, consider the cost-benefit of different vaccination strategies and review potential vaccine candidates. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Melioidosis is highly endemic in Thailand and northern Australia, where a biodefense vaccine might be adopted for public health purposes. A cost-effectiveness analysis model was developed, which showed that a vaccine could be a cost-effective intervention in Thailand, particularly if used in high-risk populations such as diabetics. Cost-effectiveness was observed in a model in which only partial immunity was assumed. The review systematically summarized all melioidosis vaccine candidates and studies in animal models that had evaluated their protectiveness. Possible candidates included live attenuated, whole cell killed, sub-unit, plasmid DNA and dendritic cell vaccines. Live attenuated vaccines were not considered favorably because of possible reversion to virulence and hypothetical risk of latent infection, while the other candidates need further development and evaluation. Melioidosis is acquired by skin inoculation, inhalation and ingestion, but routes of animal inoculation in most published studies to date do not reflect all of this. We found a lack of studies using diabetic models, which will be central to any evaluation of a melioidosis vaccine for natural infection since diabetes is the most important risk factor. CONCLUSION: Vaccines could represent one strand of a public health initiative to reduce the global incidence of melioidosis.

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Scopus

Pitman RJ, White LJ, Sculpher M. 2012. Estimating the clinical impact of introducing paediatric influenza vaccination in England and Wales Vaccine, 30 (6), pp. 1208-1224. | Show Abstract | Read more

Influenza causes a significant burden of disease each year in England and Wales, with the young and the elderly suffering the greatest burden. Children are recognised as playing an important role in the dissemination of the influenza virus. This study examines the population impact of implementing a programme of paediatric vaccination. A dynamic transmission model was used to simulate the impact of vaccination programmes with varying levels of coverage across pre-school and school age children. These analyses suggest that vaccinating as few as 50% of 2-18 year olds could result in a substantial reduction in the annual incidence of influenza related morbidity and mortality across the population. Herd immunity may extend this protection to the young and the elderly. It is assumed that such programmes would be implemented in concert with the current strategy of vaccinating the elderly and younger at risk groups with an inactivated vaccine. In England and Wales, paediatric vaccination of two to eighteen year olds reduced the estimated number of general practice consultations, hospitalisations and deaths arising from influenza A and B infections by up to 95%. This translates into an annual average reduction of approximately 52,000, 1500 and 1200 events, respectively. A policy of paediatric vaccination could significantly reduce the clinical burden of influenza in England and Wales, in all age groups, with the added value of herd immunity helping to protect the young and the elderly who are at highest risk of complications. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Pitman RJ, White LJ, Sculpher M. 2012. Estimating the clinical impact of introducing paediatric influenza vaccination in England and Wales. Vaccine, 30 (6), pp. 1208-1224. | Show Abstract | Read more

Influenza causes a significant burden of disease each year in England and Wales, with the young and the elderly suffering the greatest burden. Children are recognised as playing an important role in the dissemination of the influenza virus. This study examines the population impact of implementing a programme of paediatric vaccination. A dynamic transmission model was used to simulate the impact of vaccination programmes with varying levels of coverage across pre-school and school age children. These analyses suggest that vaccinating as few as 50% of 2-18 year olds could result in a substantial reduction in the annual incidence of influenza related morbidity and mortality across the population. Herd immunity may extend this protection to the young and the elderly. It is assumed that such programmes would be implemented in concert with the current strategy of vaccinating the elderly and younger at risk groups with an inactivated vaccine. In England and Wales, paediatric vaccination of two to eighteen year olds reduced the estimated number of general practice consultations, hospitalisations and deaths arising from influenza A and B infections by up to 95%. This translates into an annual average reduction of approximately 52,000, 1500 and 1200 events, respectively. A policy of paediatric vaccination could significantly reduce the clinical burden of influenza in England and Wales, in all age groups, with the added value of herd immunity helping to protect the young and the elderly who are at highest risk of complications.

Maude R, Socheat D, Nguon C, Yeung S, White L. 2011. OPTIMISING STRATEGIES FOR MALARIA ELIMINATION: PRIMAQUINE, MASS DRUG ADMINISTRATION AND ARTEMISININ RESISTANCECATEGORY: SCIENTIFIC FREE PAPER JOURNAL OF INFECTION, 63 (6), pp. E77-E77.

Mwambi H, Ramroop S, White L, Okiro E, Nokes D, Shkedy Z, Molenberghs G. 2011. A frequentist approach to estimating the force of infection for a respiratory disease using repeated measurement data from a birth cohort. Stat Methods Med Res, 20 (5), pp. 551-570. | Show Abstract | Read more

This article aims to develop a probability-based model involving the use of direct likelihood formulation and generalised linear modelling (GLM) approaches useful in estimating important disease parameters from longitudinal or repeated measurement data. The current application is based on infection with respiratory syncytial virus. The force of infection and the recovery rate or per capita loss of infection are the parameters of interest. However, because of the limitation arising from the study design and subsequently, the data generated only the force of infection is estimable. The problem of dealing with time-varying disease parameters is also addressed in the article by fitting piecewise constant parameters over time via the GLM approach. The current model formulation is based on that published in White LJ, Buttery J, Cooper B, Nokes DJ and Medley GF. Rotavirus within day care centres in Oxfordshire, UK: characterization of partial immunity. Journal of Royal Society Interface 2008; 5: 1481-1490 with an application to rotavirus transmission and immunity.

White LJ, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Simpson JA, Dwell SLM, Arunjerdja R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Estimation of gestational age from fundal height: a solution for resource-poor settings. J R Soc Interface, 9 (68), pp. 503-510. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many women in resource-poor settings lack access to reliable gestational age assessment because they do not know their last menstrual period; there is no ultrasound (US) and methods of newborn gestational age dating are not practised by birth attendants. A bespoke multiple-measures model was developed to predict the expected date of delivery determined by US. The results are compared with both a linear and a nonlinear model. Prospectively collected early US and serial symphysis-pubis fundal height (SFH) data were used in the models. The data were collected from Karen and Burmese women attending antenatal care on the Thai-Burmese border. The multiple-measures model performed best, resulting in a range of accuracy depending on the number of SFH measures recorded per mother (for example six SFH measurements resulted in a prediction accuracy of ±2 weeks). SFH remains the proxy for gestational age in much of the resource-poor world. While more accurate measures should be encouraged, we demonstrate that a formula that incorporates at least three SFH measures from an individual mother and the slopes between them provide a significant increase in the accuracy of prediction compared with the linear and nonlinear formulae also using multiple SFH measures.

Maude RJ, Saralamba S, Lewis A, Sherwood D, White NJ, Day NPJ, Dondorp AM, White LJ. 2011. Modelling malaria elimination on the internet. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 191. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Unprecedented efforts are underway to eliminate malaria. Mathematical modelling can help to determine the optimal strategies for malaria elimination in different epidemiological settings. This is necessary as there is limited scope for expensive and time-consuming field studies and failure of planned elimination strategies is likely to discourage ongoing investment by funders. However, there has been very little modelling of malaria elimination and little direct involvement of policymakers in its development. There is thus an urgent need for user-friendly and accessible models purpose-designed in collaboration with policymakers to answer pertinent questions arising from the field. RESULTS: An internet site is presented with a simple mathematical modelling platform for population level models of malaria elimination. It is freely accessible to all and designed to be flexible so both the platform and models can be developed through interaction with users. The site is an accessible introduction to modelling for a non-mathematical audience, and lessons learned from the project will help inform future development of mathematical models and improve communication of modelling results. Currently it hosts a simple model of strategies for malaria elimination and this will be developed, and more models added, over time. The iterative process of feedback and development will result in an educational and planning tool for non-modellers to assist with malaria elimination efforts worldwide. CONCLUSIONS: By collaboration with end users, iterative development of mathematical models of malaria elimination through this internet platform will maximize its potential as an educational and public health policy planning tool. It will also assist with preliminary optimisation of local malaria elimination strategies before commitment of valuable resources.

Maude RJ, White NJ, White LJ. 2011. Feasibility of malaria elimination. Lancet, 377 (9766), pp. 638. | Read more

Alonso PL, Eubank S, Ghani A, Hay SI, Sinden R, Smith D, Smith TA, Tanner M, White L, Modeling MCG. 2011. A Research Agenda for Malaria Eradication: Modeling PLOS MEDICINE, 8 (1), pp. e1000403-e1000403. | Read more

Saralamba S, Pan-Ngum W, Maude RJ, Lee SJ, Tarning J, Lindegårdh N, Chotivanich K, Nosten F, Day NPJ, Socheat D et al. 2011. Intrahost modeling of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 108 (1), pp. 397-402. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has emerged in western Cambodia. Resistance is characterized by prolonged in vivo parasite clearance times (PCTs) following artesunate treatment. The biological basis is unclear. The hypothesis that delayed parasite clearance results from a stage-specific reduction in artemisinin sensitivity of the circulating young asexual parasite ring stages was examined. A mathematical model was developed, describing the intrahost parasite stage-specific pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationships. Model parameters were estimated using detailed pharmacokinetic and parasite clearance data from 39 patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with artesunate from Pailin (western Cambodia) where artemisinin resistance was evident and 40 patients from Wang Pha (northwestern Thailand) where efficacy was preserved. The mathematical model reproduced the observed parasite clearance for each patient with an accurate goodness of fit (rmsd: 0.03-0.67 in log(10) scale). The parameter sets that provided the best fits with the observed in vivo data consist of a highly conserved concentration-effect relationship for the trophozoite and schizont parasite stages, but a variable relationship for the ring stages. The model-derived assessment suggests that the efficacy of artesunate on ring stage parasites is reduced significantly in Pailin. This result supports the hypothesis that artemisinin resistance mainly reflects reduced ring-stage susceptibility and predicts that doubling the frequency of dosing will accelerate clearance of artemisinin-resistant parasites.

Limmathurotsakul D, Jamsen K, Arayawichanont A, Simpson JA, White LJ, Lee SJ, Wuthiekanun V, Chantratita N, Cheng A, Day NPJ et al. 2010. Defining the true sensitivity of culture for the diagnosis of melioidosis using Bayesian latent class models. PLoS One, 5 (8), pp. e12485. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Culture remains the diagnostic gold standard for many bacterial infections, and the method against which other tests are often evaluated. Specificity of culture is 100% if the pathogenic organism is not found in healthy subjects, but the sensitivity of culture is more difficult to determine and may be low. Here, we apply Bayesian latent class models (LCMs) to data from patients with a single Gram-negative bacterial infection and define the true sensitivity of culture together with the impact of misclassification by culture on the reported accuracy of alternative diagnostic tests. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data from published studies describing the application of five diagnostic tests (culture and four serological tests) to a patient cohort with suspected melioidosis were re-analysed using several Bayesian LCMs. Sensitivities, specificities, and positive and negative predictive values (PPVs and NPVs) were calculated. Of 320 patients with suspected melioidosis, 119 (37%) had culture confirmed melioidosis. Using the final model (Bayesian LCM with conditional dependence between serological tests), the sensitivity of culture was estimated to be 60.2%. Prediction accuracy of the final model was assessed using a classification tool to grade patients according to the likelihood of melioidosis, which indicated that an estimated disease prevalence of 61.6% was credible. Estimates of sensitivities, specificities, PPVs and NPVs of four serological tests were significantly different from previously published values in which culture was used as the gold standard. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Culture has low sensitivity and low NPV for the diagnosis of melioidosis and is an imperfect gold standard against which to evaluate alternative tests. Models should be used to support the evaluation of diagnostic tests with an imperfect gold standard. It is likely that the poor sensitivity/specificity of culture is not specific for melioidosis, but rather a generic problem for many bacterial and fungal infections.

Van Effelterre T, Moore MR, Fierens F, Whitney CG, White L, Pelton SI, Hausdorff WP. 2010. A dynamic model of pneumococcal infection in the United States: implications for prevention through vaccination. Vaccine, 28 (21), pp. 3650-3660. | Show Abstract | Read more

Universal infant vaccination with the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) has nearly eliminated PCV7-serotype invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in young U.S. children, but has been accompanied by increases in the incidence of serotype 19A IPD. Because antibiotic-non-susceptible 19A has increased more than antibiotic-susceptible 19A, antibiotic selection pressure could be contributing to this trend. We developed a dynamic compartmental transmission model of pneumococcus to better understand the causes of this rise and to estimate the impact of vaccines or changes in antibiotic use on future IPD incidence in the U.S. in <2 year-olds. The model predicted that with current practices, serotype 19A IPD incidence will plateau at about the 2007 level over the next few years. The model suggests that antibiotic usage played a major role in the rise in antibiotic-non-susceptible 19A IPD, with a lesser contribution from PCV7 vaccination. However, hypothetical large decreases in antibiotic use starting in 2008 are predicted to yield only gradual decreases in antibiotic-non-susceptible 19A IPD. On the other hand, vaccines with modest (20%) effectiveness against 19A (or 6A or PCV7-serotypes) carriage are predicted to substantially (by 80%) decrease the incidence of IPD caused by those serotypes within 10 years of implementation. Our findings highlight that vaccine effects on colonization are key to their overall benefits. In addition, serotype changes following vaccine introduction may have multifactorial origins, with antibiotic use an important factor for resistant strains such as 19A.

Dondorp AM, Yeung S, White L, Nguon C, Day NPJ, Socheat D, von Seidlein L. 2010. Artemisinin resistance: current status and scenarios for containment. Nat Rev Microbiol, 8 (4), pp. 272-280. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin combination therapies are the first-line treatments for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in most malaria-endemic countries. Recently, partial artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum malaria has emerged on the Cambodia-Thailand border. Exposure of the parasite population to artemisinin monotherapies in subtherapeutic doses for over 30 years, and the availability of substandard artemisinins, have probably been the main driving force in the selection of the resistant phenotype in the region. A multifaceted containment programme has recently been launched, including early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, decreasing drug pressure, optimising vector control, targeting the mobile population, strengthening management and surveillance systems, and operational research. Mathematical modelling can be a useful tool to evaluate possible strategies for containment.

White LJ, Schukken YH, Dogan B, Green L, Döpfer D, Chappell MJ, Medley GF. 2010. Modelling the dynamics of intramammary E. coli infections in dairy cows: understanding mechanisms that distinguish transient from persistent infections. Vet Res, 41 (2), pp. 13. | Show Abstract | Read more

The majority of intramammary infections with Escherichia coli in dairy cows result in transient infections with duration of about 10 days or less, although more persistent infections (2 months or longer) have been identified. We apply a mathematical model to explore the role of an intracellular mammary epithelial cell reservoir in the dynamics of infection. We included biological knowledge of the bovine immune response and known characteristics of the bacterial population in both transient and persistent infections. The results indicate that varying the survival duration of the intracellular reservoir reproduces the data for both transient and persistent infections. Survival in an intracellular reservoir is the most likely mechanism that ensures persistence of E. coli infections in mammary glands. Knowledge of the pathogenesis of persistent infections is essential to develop preventive and treatment programmes for these important infections in dairy cows.

Maude RJ, Woodrow CJ, White LJ. 2010. Artemisinin Antimalarials: Preserving the "Magic Bullet" Drug Dev Res, 71 (1), pp. 12-19. | Show Abstract | Read more

The artemisinins are the most effective antimalarial drugs known. They possess a remarkably wide therapeutic index. These agents have been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for more than 2,000 years but were not subjected to scientific scrutiny until the 1970s. The first formal clinical trials of the artemisinins, and the development of methods for their industrial scale production, followed rapidly. A decade later, Chinese scientists shared their findings with the rest of the world; since then, a significant body of international trial evidence has confirmed these drugs to be far superior to any available alternatives. In particular, they have the ability to rapidly kill a broad range of asexual parasite stages at safe concentrations that are consistently achievable via standard dosing regimens. As their half-life is very short, there was also thought to be a low risk of resistance. These discoveries coincided with the appearance and spread of resistance to all the other major classes of antimalarials. As a result, the artemisinins now form an essential element of recommended first-line antimalarial treatment regimens worldwide. To minimize the risk of artemisinin resistance, they are recommended to be used to treat uncomplicated malaria in combination with other antimalarials as artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs). Their rollout has resulted in documented reductions in malaria prevalence in a number of African and Asian countries. Unfortunately, there are already worrisome early signs of artemisinin resistance appearing in western Cambodia. If this resistance were to spread, it would be disastrous for malaria control efforts worldwide. The enormous challenge for the international community is how to avert this catastrophe and preserve the effectiveness of this antimalarial "magic bullet". Drug Dev Res 71: 12-19, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Okiro EA, White LJ, Ngama M, Cane PA, Medley GF, Nokes DJ. 2010. Duration of shedding of respiratory syncytial virus in a community study of Kenyan children. BMC Infect Dis, 10 (1), pp. 15. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Our understanding of the transmission dynamics of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection will be better informed with improved data on the patterns of shedding in cases not limited only to hospital admissions. METHODS: In a household study, children testing RSV positive by direct immunofluorescent antibody test (DFA) were enrolled. Nasal washings were scheduled right away, then every three days until day 14, every 7 days until day 28 and every 2 weeks until a maximum of 16 weeks, or until the first DFA negative RSV specimen. The relationship between host factors, illness severity and viral shedding was investigated using Cox regression methods. RESULTS: From 151 families a total of 193 children were enrolled with a median age of 21 months (range 1-164 months), 10% infants and 46% male. The rate of recovery from infection was 0.22/person/day (95% CI 0.19-0.25) equivalent to a mean duration of shedding of 4.5 days (95%CI 4.0-5.3), with a median duration of shedding of 4 days (IQR 2-6, range 1-14). Children with a history of RSV infection had a 40% increased rate of recovery i.e. shorter duration of viral shedding (hazard ratio 1.4, 95% CI 1.01-1.86). The rate of cessation of shedding did not differ significantly between males and females, by severity of infection or by age. CONCLUSION: We provide evidence of a relationship between the duration of shedding and history of infection, which may have a bearing on the relative role of primary versus re-infections in RSV transmission in the community.

White LJ, Schukken YH, Dogan B, Green L, Döpfer D, Chappell MJ, Medley GF. 2010. Modelling the dynamics of intramammary E. coli infections in dairy cows: understanding mechanisms that distinguish transient from persistent infections. Veterinary research, 41 (2), pp. 13. | Show Abstract

The majority of intramammary infections with Escherichia coli in dairy cows result in transient infections with duration of about 10 days or less, although more persistent infections (2 months or longer) have been identified. We apply a mathematical model to explore the role of an intracellular mammary epithelial cell reservoir in the dynamics of infection. We included biological knowledge of the bovine immune response and known characteristics of the bacterial population in both transient and persistent infections. The results indicate that varying the survival duration of the intracellular reservoir reproduces the data for both transient and persistent infections. Survival in an intracellular reservoir is the most likely mechanism that ensures persistence of E. coli infections in mammary glands. Knowledge of the pathogenesis of persistent infections is essential to develop preventive and treatment programmes for these important infections in dairy cows. INRA, EDP Sciences, 2009

Maude RJ, Lubell Y, Socheat D, Yeung S, Saralamba S, Pongtavornpinyo W, Cooper BS, Dondorp AM, White NJ, White LJ. 2010. The role of mathematical modelling in guiding the science and economics of malaria elimination. Int Health, 2 (4), pp. 239-246. | Show Abstract | Read more

Unprecedented efforts are now underway to eliminate malaria from many regions. Despite the enormous financial resources committed, if malaria elimination is perceived as failing it is likely that this funding will not be sustained. It is imperative that methods are developed to use the limited data available to design site-specific, cost-effective elimination programmes. Mathematical modelling is a way of including mechanistic understanding to use available data to make predictions. Different strategies can be evaluated much more rapidly than is possible through trial and error in the field. Mathematical modelling has great potential as a tool to guide and inform current elimination efforts. Economic modelling weighs costs against characterised effects or predicted benefits in order to determine the most cost-efficient strategy but has traditionally used static models of disease not suitable for elimination. Dynamic mathematical modelling and economic modelling techniques need to be combined to contribute most effectively to ongoing policy discussions. We review the role of modelling in previous malaria control efforts as well as the unique nature of elimination and the consequent need for its explicit modelling, and emphasise the importance of good disease surveillance. The difficulties and complexities of economic evaluation of malaria control, particularly the end stages of elimination, are discussed.

Aguas R, Lourenço JML, Gomes MGM, White LJ. 2009. The impact of IPTi and IPTc interventions on malaria clinical burden - in silico perspectives. PLoS One, 4 (8), pp. e6627. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Clinical management of malaria is a major health issue in sub-Saharan Africa. New strategies based on intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) can tackle disease burden by simultaneously reducing frequency of infections and life-threatening illness in infants (IPTi) and children (IPTc), while allowing for immunity to build up. However, concerns as to whether immunity develops efficiently in treated individuals, and whether there is a rebound effect after treatment is halted, have made it imperative to define the effects that IPTi and IPTc exert on the clinical malaria scenario. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Here, we simulate several schemes of intervention under different transmission settings, while varying immunity build up assumptions. Our model predicts that infection risk and effectiveness of acquisition of clinical immunity under prophylactic effect are associated to intervention impact during treatment and follow-up periods. These effects vary across regions of different endemicity and are highly correlated with the interplay between the timing of interventions in age and the age dependent risk of acquiring an infection. However, even when significant rebound effects are predicted to occur, the overall intervention impact is positive. CONCLUSIONS: IPTi is predicted to have minimal impact on the acquisition of clinical immunity, since it does not interfere with the occurrence of mild infections, thus failing to reduce the underlying force of infection. On the contrary, IPTc has a significant potential to reduce transmission, specifically in areas where it is already low to moderate.

Barlow JW, White LJ, Zadoks RN, Schukken YH. 2009. A mathematical model demonstrating indirect and overall effects of lactation therapy targeting subclinical mastitis in dairy herds. Prev Vet Med, 90 (1-2), pp. 31-42. | Show Abstract | Read more

A deterministic state-transition model for mastitis transmission was developed to explore population level effects of antibiotic treatment regimens targeting chronic subclinical mastitis caused by major gram-positive pathogens in lactating dairy cows. Behavior and sensitivity of model outputs to changes in key parameters were explored. Outcomes included the size of the state variables describing proportions of infected quarters and basic and effective reproductive numbers. Treatment effects were estimated by calculating proportional reductions in state variables at equilibrium for populations implementing a treatment program relative to populations with no intervention. In general the relationships between parameters were complex and non-linear, although the model outputs were especially sensitive to changes in the value of the transmission rate parameter. Interaction between the parameters resulted in large variations in treatment effect estimates. Effect estimates calculated from model outputs showed a quadratic curve with a clear optimum at low, but not the lowest, transmission rates. These results indicated that overall positive population level effects of lactation therapy would be realized for herds that have successfully implemented practices that reduce the transmission rate of pathogens. A key finding is that in herds with high transmission rates, treatment of chronically infected quarters was predicted to have little impact on the proportion of infected quarters and no positive population level effect in reducing the force of infection and new infection rates. Results of this study suggest that field trials to evaluate efficacy of antimicrobial treatment should include estimates of indirect treatment effects.

Maude RJ, Pontavornpinyo W, Saralamba S, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White NJ, White LJ. 2009. The role of mathematical modelling in malaria elimination and eradication (Comment on: Can malaria be eliminated?). Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 103 (6), pp. 643-644. | Read more

Newton PN, Lee SJ, Goodman C, Fernández FM, Yeung S, Phanouvong S, Kaur H, Amin AA, Whitty CJM, Kokwaro GO et al. 2009. Guidelines for field surveys of the quality of medicines: a proposal. PLoS Med, 6 (3), pp. e52. | Read more

Pongtavornpinyo W, Hastings IM, Dondorp A, White LJ, Maude RJ, Saralamba S, Day NP, White NJ, Boni MF. 2009. Probability of emergence of antimalarial resistance in different stages of the parasite life cycle. Evol Appl, 2 (1), pp. 52-61. | Show Abstract | Read more

Understanding the evolution of drug resistance in malaria is a central area of study at the intersection of evolution and medicine. Antimalarial drug resistance is a major threat to malaria control and directly related to trends in malaria attributable mortality. Artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) are now recommended worldwide as first line treatment for uncomplicated malaria, and losing them to resistance would be a disaster for malaria control. Understanding the emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance in the context of different scenarios of antimalarial drug use is essential for the development of strategies protecting ACTs. In this study, we review the basic mechanisms of resistance emergence and describe several simple equations that can be used to estimate the probabilities of de novo resistance mutations at three stages of the parasite life cycle: sporozoite, hepatic merozoite and asexual blood stages; we discuss the factors that affect parasite survival in a single host in the context of different levels of antimalarial drug use, immunity and parasitaemia. We show that in the absence of drug effects, and despite very different parasite numbers, the probability of resistance emerging at each stage is very low and similar in all stages (for example per-infection probability of 10(-10)-10(-9) if the per-parasite chance of mutation is 10(-10) per asexual division). However, under the selective pressure provided by antimalarial treatment and particularly in the presence of hyperparasitaemia, the probability of resistance emerging in the blood stage of the parasite can be approximately five orders of magnitude higher than in the absence of drugs. Detailed models built upon these basic methods should allow us to assess the relative probabilities of resistance emergence in the different phases of the parasite life cycle.

Maude RJ, Pontavornpinyo W, Saralamba S, Aguas R, Yeung S, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White NJ, White LJ. 2009. The last man standing is the most resistant: eliminating artemisinin-resistant malaria in Cambodia. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 31. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is now the recommended first-line treatment for falciparum malaria throughout the world. Initiatives to eliminate malaria are critically dependent on its efficacy. There is recent worrying evidence that artemisinin resistance has arisen on the Thai-Cambodian border. Urgent containment interventions are planned and about to be executed. Mathematical modeling approaches to intervention design are now integrated into the field of malaria epidemiology and control. The use of such an approach to investigate the likely effectiveness of different containment measures with the ultimate aim of eliminating artemisinin-resistant malaria is described. METHODS: A population dynamic mathematical modeling framework was developed to explore the relative effectiveness of a variety of containment interventions in eliminating artemisinin-resistant malaria in western Cambodia. RESULTS: The most effective intervention to eliminate artemisinin-resistant malaria was a switch of treatment from artemisinin monotherapy to ACT (mean time to elimination 3.42 years (95% CI 3.32-3.60 years). However, with this approach it is predicted that elimination of artemisinin-resistant malaria using ACT can be achieved only by elimination of all malaria. This is because the various forms of ACT are more effective against infections with artemisinin-sensitive parasites, leaving the more resistant infections as an increasing proportion of the dwindling parasite population. CONCLUSION: Containment of artemisinin-resistant malaria can be achieved by elimination of malaria from western Cambodia using ACT. The "last man standing" is the most resistant and thus this strategy must be sustained until elimination is truly achieved.

White LJ, Maude RJ, Pongtavornpinyo W, Saralamba S, Aguas R, Van Effelterre T, Day NPJ, White NJ. 2009. The role of simple mathematical models in malaria elimination strategy design. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 212. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria has recently been identified as a candidate for global eradication. This process will take the form of a series of national eliminations. Key issues must be considered specifically for elimination strategy when compared to the control of disease. Namely the spread of drug resistance, data scarcity and the adverse effects of failed elimination attempts. Mathematical models of various levels of complexity have been produced to consider the control and elimination of malaria infection. If available, detailed data on malaria transmission (such as the vector life cycle and behaviour, human population behaviour, the acquisition and decay of immunity, heterogeneities in transmission intensity, age profiles of clinical and subclinical infection) can be used to populate complex transmission models that can then be used to design control strategy. However, in many malaria countries reliable data are not available and policy must be formed based on information like an estimate of the average parasite prevalence. METHODS: A simple deterministic model, that requires data in the form of a single estimate of parasite prevalence as an input, is developed for the purpose of comparison with other more complex models. The model is designed to include key aspects of malaria transmission and integrated control. RESULTS: The simple model is shown to have similar short-term dynamic behaviour to three complex models. The model is used to demonstrate the potential of alternative methods of delivery of controls. The adverse effects on clinical infection and spread of resistance are predicted for failed elimination attempts. Since elimination strategies present an increased risk of the spread of drug resistance, the model is used to demonstrate the population level protective effect of multiple controls against this very serious threat. CONCLUSION: A simple model structure for the elimination of malaria is suitable for situations where data are sparse yet strategy design requirements are urgent with the caveat that more complex models, populated with new data, would provide more information, especially in the long-term.

White NJ, Pongtavornpinyo W, Maude RJ, Saralamba S, Aguas R, Stepniewska K, Lee SJ, Dondorp AM, White LJ, Day NPJ. 2009. Hyperparasitaemia and low dosing are an important source of anti-malarial drug resistance. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 253. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Preventing the emergence of anti-malarial drug resistance is critical for the success of current malaria elimination efforts. Prevention strategies have focused predominantly on qualitative factors, such as choice of drugs, use of combinations and deployment of multiple first-line treatments. The importance of anti-malarial treatment dosing has been underappreciated. Treatment recommendations are often for the lowest doses that produce "satisfactory" results. METHODS: The probability of de-novo resistant malaria parasites surviving and transmitting depends on the relationship between their degree of resistance and the blood concentration profiles of the anti-malarial drug to which they are exposed. The conditions required for the in-vivo selection of de-novo emergent resistant malaria parasites were examined and relative probabilities assessed. RESULTS: Recrudescence is essential for the transmission of de-novo resistance. For rapidly eliminated anti-malarials high-grade resistance can arise from a single drug exposure, but low-grade resistance can arise only from repeated inadequate treatments. Resistance to artemisinins is, therefore, unlikely to emerge with single drug exposures. Hyperparasitaemic patients are an important source of de-novo anti-malarial drug resistance. Their parasite populations are larger, their control of the infection insufficient, and their rates of recrudescence following anti-malarial treatment are high. As use of substandard drugs, poor adherence, unusual pharmacokinetics, and inadequate immune responses are host characteristics, likely to pertain to each recurrence of infection, a small subgroup of patients provides the particular circumstances conducive to de-novo resistance selection and transmission. CONCLUSION: Current dosing recommendations provide a resistance selection opportunity in those patients with low drug levels and high parasite burdens (often children or pregnant women). Patients with hyperparasitaemia who receive outpatient treatments provide the greatest risk of selecting de-novo resistant parasites. This emphasizes the importance of ensuring that only quality-assured anti-malarial combinations are used, that treatment doses are optimized on the basis of pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic assessments in the target populations, and that patients with heavy parasite burdens are identified and receive sufficient treatment to prevent recrudescence.

White LJ, Buttery J, Cooper B, Nokes DJ, Medley GF. 2008. Rotavirus within day care centres in Oxfordshire, UK: characterization of partial immunity. J R Soc Interface, 5 (29), pp. 1481-1490. | Show Abstract | Read more

Repeated measures data for rotavirus infection in children within 14 day care centres (DCCs) in the Oxfordshire area, UK, are used to explore aspects of rotavirus transmission and immunity. A biologically realistic model for the transmission of infection is presented as a set of probability models suitable for application to the data. Two transition events are modelled separately: incidence and recovery. The complexity of the underlying mechanistic model is reflected in the choice of the fixed variables in the probability models. Parameter estimation was carried out using a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo method. We use the parameter estimates obtained to build a profile of the natural history of rotavirus reinfection in an individual child. We infer that rotavirus transmission in children in DCCs is dependent on the DCC prevalence, with symptomatic infection of longer duration, but no more infectious per day of infectious period, than asymptomatic infection. There was evidence that a recent previous infection reduces the risk of disease and, to a lesser extent, reinfection, but not duration of infection. The results provide evidence that partial immunity to rotavirus infection develops over several time scales.

Aguas R, White LJ, Snow RW, Gomes MGM. 2008. Prospects for malaria eradication in sub-Saharan Africa. PLoS One, 3 (3), pp. e1767. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A characteristic of Plasmodium falciparum infections is the gradual acquisition of clinical immunity resulting from repeated exposures to the parasite. While the molecular basis of protection against clinical malaria remains unresolved, its effects on epidemiological patterns are well recognized. Accumulating epidemiological data constitute a valuable resource that must be intensively explored and interpreted as to effectively inform control planning. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDING: Here we apply a mathematical model to clinical data from eight endemic regions in sub-Saharan Africa. The model provides a quantitative framework within which differences in age distribution of clinical disease are assessed in terms of the parameters underlying transmission. The shorter infectious periods estimated for clinical infections induce a regime of bistability of endemic and malaria-free states in regions of mesoendemic transmission. The two epidemiological states are separated by a threshold that provides a convenient measure for intervention design. Scenarios of eradication and resurgence are simulated. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In regions that support mesoendemic transmission, intervention success depends critically on reducing prevalence below a threshold which separates endemic and malaria-free regimes.

Nokes DJ, Okiro EA, Ngama M, Ochola R, White LJ, Scott PD, English M, Cane PA, Medley GF. 2008. Respiratory syncytial virus infection and disease in infants and young children observed from birth in Kilifi District, Kenya. Clin Infect Dis, 46 (1), pp. 50-57. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In developing countries, there are few data that characterize the disease burden attributable to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and clearly define which age group to target for vaccine intervention. METHODS: Six hundred thirty-five children, recruited during the period 2002-2003, were intensively monitored until each experienced 3 epidemics of RSV infection. RSV infection was diagnosed using immunofluorescence of nasal washing specimens collected at each episode of acute respiratory infection. Incidence estimates were adjusted for seasonality of RSV exposure. RESULTS: For 1187 child-years of observation (CYO), a total of 409 (365 primary and 82 repeat) episodes of RSV infection were identified. Adjusted incidence estimates of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), severe LRTI, and hospital admission were 90 cases per 1000 CYO, 43 cases per 1000 CYO, and 10 cases per 1000 CYO, respectively, and corresponding estimates among infants were 104 cases per 1000 CYO, 66 cases per 1000 CYO, and 13 cases per 1000 CYO, respectively. The proportion of cases of all-cause LRTI, and severe LRTI and hospitalizations attributable to RSV in the cohort was 13%, 19%, and 5%, respectively. Fifty-five percent to 65% of RSV-associated LRTI and severe LRTI occurred in children aged >6 months. The risk of RSV disease following primary symptomatic infection remained significant beyond the first year of life, and one-quarter of all reinfections were associated with LRTI. CONCLUSIONS: RSV accounts for a substantial proportion of the total respiratory disease in this rural population; we estimate that 85,000 cases of severe LRTI per year occur in infants in Kenya. The majority of this morbidity occurs during late infancy and early childhood--ages at which the risk of disease following infection remains significant. Disease resulting from reinfection is common. Our results inform the debate on the target age group and effectiveness of a vaccine.

White LJ, Mandl JN, Gomes MGM, Bodley-Tickell AT, Cane PA, Perez-Brena P, Aguilar JC, Siqueira MM, Portes SA, Straliotto SM et al. 2007. Understanding the transmission dynamics of respiratory syncytial virus using multiple time series and nested models. Math Biosci, 209 (1), pp. 222-239. | Show Abstract | Read more

The nature and role of re-infection and partial immunity are likely to be important determinants of the transmission dynamics of human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV). We propose a single model structure that captures four possible host responses to infection and subsequent reinfection: partial susceptibility, altered infection duration, reduced infectiousness and temporary immunity (which might be partial). The magnitude of these responses is determined by four homotopy parameters, and by setting some of these parameters to extreme values we generate a set of eight nested, deterministic transmission models. In order to investigate hRSV transmission dynamics, we applied these models to incidence data from eight international locations. Seasonality is included as cyclic variation in transmission. Parameters associated with the natural history of the infection were assumed to be independent of geographic location, while others, such as those associated with seasonality, were assumed location specific. Models incorporating either of the two extreme assumptions for immunity (none or solid and lifelong) were unable to reproduce the observed dynamics. Model fits with either waning or partial immunity to disease or both were visually comparable. The best fitting structure was a lifelong partial immunity to both disease and infection. Observed patterns were reproduced by stochastic simulations using the parameter values estimated from the deterministic models.

Waris M, White LJ. 2006. Seasonality of respiratory syncytial virus infection. Clin Infect Dis, 43 (4), pp. 541. | Read more

Gomes MGM, White LJ, Medley GF. 2006. The reinfection threshold (vol 236, pg 111, 2005) JOURNAL OF THEORETICAL BIOLOGY, 239 (4), pp. 518-518. | Read more

Gomes MGM, White LJ, Medley GF. 2005. The reinfection threshold. J Theor Biol, 236 (1), pp. 111-113. | Show Abstract | Read more

Thresholds in transmission are responsible for critical changes in infectious disease epidemiology. The epidemic threshold indicates whether infection invades a totally susceptible population. The reinfection threshold indicates whether self-sustained transmission occurs in a population that has developed a degree of partial immunity to the pathogen (by previous infection or vaccination). In models that combine susceptible and partially immune individuals, the reinfection threshold is technically not a bifurcation of equilibria as correctly pointed out by Breban and Blower. However, we show that a branch of equilibria to a reinfection submodel bifurcates from the disease-free equilibrium as transmission crosses this threshold. Consequently, the full model indicates that levels of infection increase by two orders of magnitude and the effect of mass vaccination becomes negligible as transmission increases across the reinfection threshold.

Evans ND, White LJ, Chapman MJ, Godfrey KR, Chappell MJ. 2005. The structural identifiability of the susceptible infected recovered model with seasonal forcing. Math Biosci, 194 (2), pp. 175-197. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this paper, it is shown that the SIR epidemic model, with the force of infection subject to seasonal variation, and a proportion of either the prevalence or the incidence measured, is unidentifiable unless certain key system parameters are known, or measurable. This means that an uncountable number of different parameter vectors can, theoretically, give rise to the same idealised output data. Any subsequent parameter estimation from real data must be viewed with little confidence as a result. The approach adopted for the structural identifiability analysis utilises the existence of an infinitely differentiable transformation that connects the state trajectories corresponding to parameter vectors that give rise to identical output data. When this approach proves computationally intractable, it is possible to use the converse idea that the existence of a coordinate transformation between states for particular parameter vectors implies indistinguishability between these vectors from the corresponding model outputs.

Evans ND, White LJ, Chapman MJ, Godfrey KR, Chappell MJ. 2005. The structural identifiability of the susceptible infected recovered model with seasonal forcing MATHEMATICAL BIOSCIENCES, 194 (2), pp. 175-197. | Read more

White LJ, Waris M, Cane PA, Nokes DJ, Medley GF. 2005. The transmission dynamics of groups A and B human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) in England & Wales and Finland: seasonality and cross-protection. Epidemiol Infect, 133 (2), pp. 279-289. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) transmission dynamics are inherently cyclical, and the observed genetic diversity (between groups A and B) also appears to have a repeating pattern. A key unknown is the extent to which genetic variants interact immunologically, and thus impact on epidemiology. We developed a novel mathematical model for hRSV transmission including seasonal forcing of incidence and temporary intra- and inter-group partial immunity. Simultaneous model fits to data from two locations (England & Wales, UK, and Turku, Finland) successfully reproduced the contrasting infection dynamics and group A/B dominance patterns. Parameter estimates are consistent with direct estimates. Differences in the magnitude and seasonal variation in contact rate between the two populations alone could account for the variation in dynamics between these populations. The A/B group dominance patterns are explained by reductions in susceptibility to and infectiousness of secondary homologous and heterologous infections. The consequences of the observed dynamic complexity are discussed.

Evans ND, Cronin DM, White LJ, Chappell MJ, Chapman MJ, Godfrey KR. 2005. CONTROLLING THE TRANSMISSION OF MASTITIS-CAUSING PATHOGENS ACROSS HETEROGENEOUS DAIRY HERDS IFAC Proceedings Volumes, 38 (1), pp. 19-24. | Show Abstract | Read more

Using a mathematical model for the transmission of mastitis-causing pathogens in a dairy herd and parameter estimation, control strategies are derived for a number of different herds. in addition, a single common strategy is derived for control of all of the herds. A key feature of all of the control strategies is that they minimise the combined costs associated with infection and treatment. Only a small decrease in performance results from developing a common strategy. Copyright © 2005 IFAC.

Margaria G, Riccomagno E, White LJ. 2004. Structural identifiability analysis of some highly structured families of statespace models using differential algebra. J Math Biol, 49 (5), pp. 433-454. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this paper we identify biologically relevant families of models whose structural identifiability analysis could not be performed with available techniques directly. The models considered come from both the immunological and epidemiological literature.

Gomes MGM, White LJ, Medley GF. 2004. Infection, reinfection, and vaccination under suboptimal immune protection: epidemiological perspectives. J Theor Biol, 228 (4), pp. 539-549. | Show Abstract | Read more

The SIR (susceptible-infectious-resistant) and SIS (susceptible-infectious-susceptible) frameworks for infectious disease have been extensively studied and successfully applied. They implicitly assume the upper and lower limits of the range of possibilities for host immune response. However, the majority of infections do not fall into either of these extreme categories. We combine two general avenues that straddle this range: temporary immune protection (immunity wanes over time since infection), and partial immune protection (immunity is not fully protective but reduces the risk of reinfection). We present a systematic analysis of the dynamics and equilibrium properties of these models in comparison to SIR and SIS, and analyse the outcome of vaccination programmes. We describe how the waning of immunity shortens inter-epidemic periods, and poses major difficulties to disease eradication. We identify a "reinfection threshold" in transmission when partial immunity is included. Below the reinfection threshold primary infection dominates, levels of infection are low, and vaccination is highly effective (approximately an SIR model). Above the reinfection threshold reinfection dominates, levels of infection are high, and vaccination fails to protect (approximately an SIS situation). This association between high prevalence of infection and vaccine failure emphasizes the problems of controlling recurrent infections in high-burden regions. However, vaccines that induce a better protection than natural infection have the potential to increase the reinfection threshold, and therefore constitute interventions with a surprisingly high capacity to reduce infection where reduction is most needed.

White LJ, Evans ND, Lam TJGM, Schukken YH, Medley GF, Godfrey KR, Chappell MJ. 2002. The structural identifiability and parameter estimation of a multispecies model for the transmission of mastitis in dairy cows with postmilking teat disinfection. Math Biosci, 180 (1-2), pp. 275-291. | Show Abstract | Read more

A mathematical model for the transmission of two interacting classes of mastitis causing bacterial pathogens in a herd of dairy cows is presented and applied to a specific data set. The data were derived from a field trial of a specific measure used in the control of these pathogens, where half the individuals were subjected to the control and in the others the treatment was discontinued. The resultant mathematical model (eight non-linear simultaneous ordinary differential equations) therefore incorporates heterogeneity in the host as well as the infectious agent and consequently the effects of control are intrinsic in the model structure. A structural identifiability analysis of the model is presented demonstrating that the scope of the novel method used allows application to high order non-linear systems. The results of a simultaneous estimation of six unknown system parameters are presented. Previous work has only estimated a subset of these either simultaneously or individually. Therefore not only are new estimates provided for the parameters relating to the transmission and control of the classes of pathogens under study, but also information about the relationships between them. We exploit the close link between mathematical modelling, structural identifiability analysis, and parameter estimation to obtain biological insights into the system modelled.

White LJ, Evans ND, Lam TJ, Schukken YH, Medley GF, Godfrey KR, Chappell MJ. 2001. The structural identifiability and parameter estimation of a multispecies model for the transmission of mastitis in dairy cows. Math Biosci, 174 (2), pp. 77-90. | Show Abstract | Read more

A structural identifiability analysis is performed on a mathematical model for the coupled transmission of two classes of pathogen. The pathogens, classified as major and minor, are aetiological agents of mastitis in dairy cows that interact directly and via the immunological reaction in their hosts. Parameter estimates are available from experimental data for all but four of the parameters in the model. Data from a longitudinal study of infection are used to estimate these unknown parameters. A novel approach and application of structural identifiability analysis is combined in this paper with the estimation of cross-protection parameters using epidemiological data.

White LJ, Schukken YH, Lam TJ, Medley GF, Chappell MJ. 2001. A multispecies model for the transmission and control of mastitis in dairy cows. Epidemiol Infect, 127 (3), pp. 567-576. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mastitis in dairy cows is a significant economic and animal welfare issue in the dairy industry. The bacterial pathogens responsible for infection of the mammary gland may be split into two main categories: major and minor pathogens. Infection with major pathogens generally results in clinical illness or strong inflammatory responses and reduced milk yields, whereas minor pathogen infection is usually subclinical. Previous investigations have considered the transmission of these pathogens independently. Experimental evidence has shown cross-protection between species of pathogens. In this study a mathematical model for the coupled transmission of major and minor pathogens along with their interaction via the host was developed in order to consider various methods for controlling the incidence of major pathogen infection. A stability analysis of the model equilibria provides explanations for observed phenomena and previous decoupled modelling results. This multispecies model structure has provided a basis for quantifying the extent of cross-protection between species and assessing possible control strategies against the disease.

White LJ, Medley GF. 1998. Microparasite population dynamics and continuous immunity. Proc Biol Sci, 265 (1409), pp. 1977-1983. | Show Abstract | Read more

A mathematical model is presented for the transmission of a microparasite where the hosts occupy one of two states, uninfected or infected. In each state, the hosts are distributed over a continuous range of immunity. The immune levels vary within hosts due to the processes of waning of immunity (when uninfected), and increasing immunity (when infected), eventually resulting in recovery. Immunity level also influences the host's ability to infect or be infected. Thus the proposed model incorporates both inter- and intra-host dynamics. It is shown from equilibrium results that this model is a general form of the susceptible-infected-resistant (SIR) and susceptible-infected-susceptible (SIS) family of models, a development that is useful for exploring multistrain pathogen transmission and use of vaccines which confer temporary protection.

White LJ, Cox MJ, Medley GF. 1998. Cross immunity and vaccination against multiple microparasite strains. IMA J Math Appl Med Biol, 15 (3), pp. 211-233. | Show Abstract

We explore the equilibrium properties of a series of compartmental, ODE models describing the interaction between different strains of pathogen. The interaction is conceptualized as acting through shared antigens: infection and recovery from one strain leaves the host with a primed immune response against subsequent strains. The models consider the effect of this priming on susceptibility (the ability to be infected) and transmission (the ability to infect) in an SIR model. In these models, the specific past history of infection is encapsulated in different susceptible compartments within the model. In a third, SIS, model, specific past history is not included, but strains have differential abilities to infect previously infected hosts. Equilibrium results include criteria for the coexistence of strains. For the SIR models, the region of coexistence defined by parameters shrinks as the effect of strains on each other (increased antigenic similarity) increases. For the SIS model, coexistence depends critically on the rate at which complete susceptibility is recovered following infection, and coexisting strains must have differential abilities to infect completely and partially susceptible hosts. Interestingly, this model provides analogies to commensalism (the first species gains from the presence of the second; the second neither gains nor loses from the interaction) and symbiosis (the presence of both species benefits the other). Additionally, we show that the maximum number of coexisting strains is two in this model. The effect of vaccination depends on the initial strain structure, the ability of vaccination to mount protection to both strains and the coverage. Vaccination may allow a previously excluded strain to coexist or exist alone, and may allow a previously rarer strain to become more common with the possibility of increasing incidence of disease. We discuss the dynamics of these models, compare model results to observed patterns and consider additional model structures. The importance of these results to specific multi-strain pathogens, in particular rotavirus, is considered.

White LJ, Flegg JA, Phyo AP, Wiladpai-ngern JH, Bethell D, Plowe C, Anderson T, Nkhoma S, Nair S, Tripura R et al. 2015. Defining the in vivo phenotype of artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria: a modelling approach. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001823. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria has emerged in Southeast Asia, posing a major threat to malaria control. It is characterised by delayed asexual-stage parasite clearance, which is the reference comparator for the molecular marker 'Kelch 13' and in vitro sensitivity tests. However, current cut-off values denoting slow clearance based on the proportion of individuals remaining parasitaemic on the third day of treatment ('day-3'), or on peripheral blood parasite half-life, are not well supported. We here explore the parasite clearance distributions in an area of artemisinin resistance with the aim refining the in vivo phenotypic definitions. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Data from 1,518 patients on the Thai-Myanmar and Thai-Cambodian borders with parasite half-life assessments after artesunate treatment were analysed. Half-lives followed a bimodal distribution. A statistical approach was developed to infer the characteristics of the component distributions and their relative contribution to the composite mixture. A model representing two parasite subpopulations with geometric mean (IQR) parasite half-lives of 3.0 (2.4-3.9) hours and 6.50 (5.7-7.4) hours was consistent with the data. For individual patients, the parasite half-life provided a predicted likelihood of an artemisinin-resistant infection which depends on the population prevalence of resistance in that area. Consequently, a half-life where the probability is 0.5 varied between 3.5 and 5.5 hours. Using this model, the current 'day-3' cut-off value of 10% predicts the potential presence of artemisinin-resistant infections in most but not all scenarios. These findings are relevant to the low-transmission setting of Southeast Asia. Generalisation to a high transmission setting as in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa will need additional evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Characterisation of overlapping distributions of parasite half-lives provides quantitative insight into the relationship between parasite clearance and artemisinin resistance, as well as the predictive value of the 10% cut-off in 'day-3' parasitaemia. The findings are important for the interpretation of in vitro sensitivity tests and molecular markers for artemisinin resistance and for contextualising the 'day 3' threshold to account for initial parasitaemia and sample size.

Cooper BS, Boni MF, Pan-ngum W, Day NPJ, Horby PW, Olliaro P, Lang T, White NJ, White LJ, Whitehead J. 2015. Evaluating clinical trial designs for investigational treatments of Ebola virus disease. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001815. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Experimental treatments for Ebola virus disease (EVD) might reduce EVD mortality. There is uncertainty about the ability of different clinical trial designs to identify effective treatments, and about the feasibility of implementing individually randomised controlled trials during an Ebola epidemic. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A treatment evaluation programme for use in EVD was devised using a multi-stage approach (MSA) with two or three stages, including both non-randomised and randomised elements. The probabilities of rightly or wrongly recommending the experimental treatment, the required sample size, and the consequences for epidemic outcomes over 100 d under two epidemic scenarios were compared for the MSA, a sequential randomised controlled trial (SRCT) with up to 20 interim analyses, and, as a reference case, a conventional randomised controlled trial (RCT) without interim analyses. Assuming 50% 14-d survival in the population treated with the current standard of supportive care, all designs had similar probabilities of identifying effective treatments correctly, while the MSA was less likely to recommend treatments that were ineffective. The MSA led to a smaller number of cases receiving ineffective treatments and faster roll-out of highly effective treatments. For less effective treatments, the MSA had a high probability of including an RCT component, leading to a somewhat longer time to roll-out or rejection. Assuming 100 new EVD cases per day, the MSA led to between 6% and 15% greater reductions in epidemic mortality over the first 100 d for highly effective treatments compared to the SRCT. Both the MSA and SRCT led to substantially fewer deaths than a conventional RCT if the tested interventions were either highly effective or harmful. In the proposed MSA, the major threat to the validity of the results of the non-randomised components is that referral patterns, standard of care, or the virus itself may change during the study period in ways that affect mortality. Adverse events are also harder to quantify without a concurrent control group. CONCLUSIONS: The MSA discards ineffective treatments quickly, while reliably providing evidence concerning effective treatments. The MSA is appropriate for the clinical evaluation of EVD treatments.

Suwanpakdee S, Kaewkungwal J, White LJ, Asensio N, Ratanakorn P, Singhasivanon P, Day NPJ, Pan-Ngum W. 2015. Spatio-temporal patterns of leptospirosis in Thailand: is flooding a risk factor? Epidemiol Infect, 143 (10), pp. 2106-2115. | Show Abstract | Read more

We studied the temporal and spatial patterns of leptospirosis, its association with flooding and animal census data in Thailand. Flood data from 2010 to 2012 were extracted from spatial information taken from satellite images. The incidence rate ratio (IRR) was used to determine the relationship between spatio-temporal flooding patterns and the number of human leptospirosis cases. In addition, the area of flood coverage, duration of waterlogging, time lags between flood events, and a number of potential animal reservoirs were considered in a sub-analysis. There was no significant temporal trend of leptospirosis over the study period. Statistical analysis showed an inconsistent relationship between IRR and flooding across years and regions. Spatially, leptospirosis occurred repeatedly and predominantly in northeastern Thailand. Our findings suggest that flooding is less influential in leptospirosis transmission than previously assumed. High incidence of the disease in the northeastern region is explained by the fact that agriculture and animal farming are important economic activities in this area. The periodic rise and fall of reported leptospirosis cases over time might be explained by seasonal exposure from rice farming activities performed during the rainy season when flood events often occur. We conclude that leptospirosis remains an occupational disease in Thailand.

Maude RJ, Nguon C, Ly P, Bunkea T, Ngor P, Canavati de la Torre SE, White NJ, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White LJ, Chuor CM. 2014. Spatial and temporal epidemiology of clinical malaria in Cambodia 2004-2013. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 385. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has recently been identified on the Thailand-Cambodia border and more recently in parts of Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. There is concern that if this resistance were to spread, it would severely hamper malaria control and elimination efforts worldwide. Efforts are currently underway to intensify malaria control activities and ultimately eliminate malaria from Cambodia. To support these efforts, it is crucial to have a detailed picture of disease burden and its major determinants over time. METHODS: An analysis of spatial and temporal data on clinical malaria in Cambodia collected by the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) and the Department of Planning and Health Information, Ministry of Health Cambodia from 2004 to 2013 is presented. RESULTS: There has been a marked decrease of 81% in annual cases due to P. falciparum since 2009 coinciding with a rapid scale-up in village malaria workers (VMWs) and insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs). Concurrently, the number of cases with Plasmodium vivax has greatly increased. It is estimated that there were around 112,000 total cases in 2012, 2.8 times greater than the WHO estimate for that year, and 68,000 in 2013 (an annual parasite incidence (API) of 4.6/1000). With the scale-up of VMWs, numbers of patients presenting to government facilities did not fall and it appears likely that those who saw VMWs had previously accessed healthcare in the private sector. Malaria mortality has decreased, particularly in areas with VMWs. There has been a marked decrease in cases in parts of western Cambodia, especially in Pailin and Battambang Provinces. In the northeast, the fall in malaria burden has been more modest, this area having the highest API in 2013. CONCLUSION: The clinical burden of falciparum malaria in most areas of Cambodia has greatly decreased from 2009 to 2013, associated with roll-out of ITNs and VMWs. Numbers of cases with P. vivax have increased. Possible reasons for these trends are discussed and areas requiring further study are highlighted. Although malaria surveillance data are prone to collection bias and tend to underestimate disease burden, the finding of similar trends in two independent datasets in this study greatly increased the robustness of the findings.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2014. Towards malaria elimination in Mpumalanga, South Africa: a population-level mathematical modelling approach. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 297. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mpumalanga in South Africa is committed to eliminating malaria by 2018 and efforts are increasing beyond that necessary for malaria control. Differential Equation models may be used to study the incidence and spread of disease with an important benefit being the ability to enact exogenous change on the system to predict impact without committing any real resources. The model is a deterministic non-linear ordinary differential equation representation of the dynamics of the human population. The model is fitted to weekly data of treated cases from 2002 to 2008, and then validated with data from 2009 to 2012. Elimination-focused interventions such as the scale-up of vector control, mass drug administration, a focused mass screen and treat campaign and foreign source reduction are applied to the model to assess their potential impact on transmission. RESULTS: Scaling up vector control by 10% and 20% resulted in substantial predicted decreases in local infections with little impact on imported infections. Mass drug administration is a high impact but short-lived intervention with predicted decreases in local infections of less that one infection per year. However, transmission reverted to pre-intervention levels within three years. Focused mass screen and treat campaigns at border-entry points are predicted to result in a knock-on decrease in local infections through a reduction in the infectious reservoir. This knock-on decrease in local infections was also predicted to be achieved through foreign source reduction. Elimination was only predicted to be possible under the scenario of zero imported infections in Mpumalanga. CONCLUSIONS: A constant influx of imported infections show that vector control alone will not be able to eliminate local malaria as it is insufficient to interrupt transmission. Both mass interventions have a large and immediate impact. Yet in countries with a large migrant population, these interventions may fail due to the reintroduction of parasites and their impact may be short-lived. While all strategies (in isolation or combined) contributed to decreasing local infections, none was predicted to decrease local infections to zero. The number of imported infections highlights the importance of reducing imported infections at source, and a regional approach to malaria elimination.

Lubell Y, Dondorp A, Guérin PJ, Drake T, Meek S, Ashley E, Day NPJ, White NJ, White LJ. 2014. Artemisinin resistance--modelling the potential human and economic costs. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 452. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination therapy is recommended as first-line treatment for falciparum malaria across the endemic world and is increasingly relied upon for treating vivax malaria where chloroquine is failing. Artemisinin resistance was first detected in western Cambodia in 2007, and is now confirmed in the Greater Mekong region, raising the spectre of a malaria resurgence that could undo a decade of progress in control, and threaten the feasibility of elimination. The magnitude of this threat has not been quantified. METHODS: This analysis compares the health and economic consequences of two future scenarios occurring once artemisinin-based treatments are available with high coverage. In the first scenario, artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is largely effective in the management of uncomplicated malaria and severe malaria is treated with artesunate, while in the second scenario ACT are failing at a rate of 30%, and treatment of severe malaria reverts to quinine. The model is applied to all malaria-endemic countries using their specific estimates for malaria incidence, transmission intensity and GDP. The model describes the direct medical costs for repeated diagnosis and retreatment of clinical failures as well as admission costs for severe malaria. For productivity losses, the conservative friction costing method is used, which assumes a limited economic impact for individuals that are no longer economically active until they are replaced from the unemployment pool. RESULTS: Using conservative assumptions and parameter estimates, the model projects an excess of 116,000 deaths annually in the scenario of widespread artemisinin resistance. The predicted medical costs for retreatment of clinical failures and for management of severe malaria exceed US$32 million per year. Productivity losses resulting from excess morbidity and mortality were estimated at US$385 million for each year during which failing ACT remained in use as first-line treatment. CONCLUSIONS: These 'ballpark' figures for the magnitude of the health and economic threat posed by artemisinin resistance add weight to the call for urgent action to detect the emergence of resistance as early as possible and contain its spread from known locations in the Mekong region to elsewhere in the endemic world.

Hendriksen ICE, White LJ, Veenemans J, Mtove G, Woodrow C, Amos B, Saiwaew S, Gesase S, Nadjm B, Silamut K et al. 2013. Defining falciparum-malaria-attributable severe febrile illness in moderate-to-high transmission settings on the basis of plasma PfHRP2 concentration. J Infect Dis, 207 (2), pp. 351-361. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In malaria-endemic settings, asymptomatic parasitemia complicates the diagnosis of malaria. Histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) is produced by Plasmodium falciparum, and its plasma concentration reflects the total body parasite burden. We aimed to define the malaria-attributable fraction of severe febrile illness, using the distributions of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 (PfHRP2) concentrations from parasitemic children with different clinical presentations. METHODS: Plasma samples were collected from and peripheral blood slides prepared for 1435 children aged 6-60 months in communities and a nearby hospital in northeastern Tanzania. The study population included children with severe or uncomplicated malaria, asymptomatic carriers, and healthy control subjects who had negative results of rapid diagnostic tests. The distributions of plasma PfHRP2 concentrations among the different groups were used to model severe malaria-attributable disease. RESULTS: The plasma PfHRP2 concentration showed a close correlation with the severity of infection. PfHRP2 concentrations of >1000 ng/mL denoted a malaria-attributable fraction of severe disease of 99% (95% credible interval [CI], 96%-100%), with a sensitivity of 74% (95% CI, 72%-77%), whereas a concentration of <200 ng/mL denoted severe febrile illness of an alternative diagnosis in >10% (95% CI, 3%-27%) of patients. Bacteremia was more common among patients in the lowest and highest PfHRP2 concentration quintiles. CONCLUSIONS: The plasma PfHRP2 concentration defines malaria-attributable disease and distinguishes severe malaria from coincidental parasitemia in African children in a moderate-to-high transmission setting.

Maude RJ, Hasan MU, Hossain MA, Sayeed AA, Kanti Paul S, Rahman W, Maude RR, Vaid N, Ghose A, Amin R et al. 2012. Temporal trends in severe malaria in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 323. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Epidemiological data on malaria in Bangladesh are sparse, particularly on severe and fatal malaria. This hampers the allocation of healthcare provision in this resource-poor setting. Over 85% of the estimated 150,000-250,000 annual malaria cases in Bangladesh occur in Chittagong Division with 80% in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) is the major tertiary referral hospital for severe malaria in Chittagong Division. METHODS: Malaria screening data from 22,785 inpatients in CMCH from 1999-2011 were analysed to investigate the patterns of referral, temporal trends and geographical distribution of severe malaria in Chittagong Division, Bangladesh. RESULTS: From 1999 till 2011, 2,394 malaria cases were admitted, of which 96% harboured Plasmodium falciparum and 4% Plasmodium vivax. Infection was commonest in males (67%) between 15 and 34 years of age. Seasonality of malaria incidence was marked with a single peak in P. falciparum transmission from June to August coinciding with peak rainfall, whereas P. vivax showed an additional peak in February-March possibly representing relapse infections. Since 2007 there has been a substantial decrease in the absolute number of admitted malaria cases. Case fatality in severe malaria was 18% from 2008-2011, remaining steady during this period.A travel history obtained in 226 malaria patients revealed only 33% had been to the CHT in the preceding three weeks. Of all admitted malaria patients, only 9% lived in the CHT, and none in the more remote malaria endemic regions near the Indian border. CONCLUSIONS: The overall decline in admitted malaria cases to CMCH suggests recent control measures are successful. However, there are no reliable data on the incidence of severe malaria in the CHT, the most endemic area of Bangladesh, and most of these patients do not reach tertiary health facilities. Improvement of early treatment and simple supportive care for severe malaria in remote areas and implementation of a referral system for cases requiring additional supportive care could be important contributors to further reducing malaria-attributable disease and death in Bangladesh.

Durier N, Nguyen C, White LJ. 2012. Treatment of hepatitis C as prevention: a modeling case study in Vietnam. PLoS One, 7 (4), pp. e34548. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Treatment of hepatitis C (HCV) is very effective, achieving a cure in 50-90% of patients. Besides its own good for individuals, this most likely translates in reduced transmission, but this phenomenon has yet to be fully explored. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In this mathematical modeling study done in the context of Vietnam, we estimated the public health benefit that HCV therapy for injecting drug users (IDUs) may achieve. Treatment coverage of 25, 50 and 75% of chronically HCV-infected IDUs (4 years into infection) is predicted to reduce the chronic HCV viremia prevalence respectively by 21, 37 and 50%, 11 years after full scale up to the intended coverage. At a constant 50% coverage level, earlier treatment, 3, 2, and 1 year into infection is predicted to reduce the chronic HCV viremia prevalence by 46, 60 and 85%. In these later 3 scenarios, for every 100 treatment courses provided, a total of respectively 50, 61 and 94 new infections could be averted. These benefits were projected in the context of current low coverage of methadone maintenance therapy and needles/syringes exchange programs, and these services expansion showed complementary preventive benefits to HCV therapy. The program treatment commitment associated with the various scenarios is deemed reasonable. Our model projections are robust under adjustment for uncertainty in the model parameter values. CONCLUSIONS: In this case study in Vietnam, we project that treatment of HCV for injecting drug users will have a preventative herd effect in addition to curing patients in need for therapy, achieving a substantial reduction in HCV transmission and prevalence.

White LJ, Newton PN, Maude RJ, Pan-ngum W, Fried JR, Mayxay M, Maude RR, Day NPJ. 2012. Defining disease heterogeneity to guide the empirical treatment of febrile illness in resource poor settings. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e44545. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria incidence is in decline in many parts of SE Asia leading to a decreasing proportion of febrile illness that is attributable to malaria. However in the absence of rapid, affordable and accurate diagnostic tests, the non-malaria causes of these illnesses cannot be reliably identified. Studies on the aetiology of febrile illness have indicated that the causes are likely to vary by geographical location within countries (i.e. be spatially heterogeneous) and that national empirical treatment policies based on the aetiology measured in a single location could lead to inappropriate treatment. METHODS: Using data from Vientiane as a reference for the incidence of major febrile illnesses in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) and estimated incidences, plausible incidence in other Lao provinces were generated using a mathematical model for a range of national and local scale variations. For a range of treatment protocols, the mean number of appropriate treatments was predicted and the potential impact of a spatially explicit national empirical treatment protocol assessed. FINDINGS: The model predicted a negative correlation between number of appropriate treatments and the level of spatial heterogeneity. A spatially explicit national treatment protocol was predicted to increase the number of appropriate treatments by 50% for intermediate levels of spatial heterogeneity. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that given even only moderate spatial variation, a spatially explicit treatment algorithm will result in a significant improvement in the outcome of undifferentiated fevers in Laos and other similar resource poor settings.

Maude RJ, Pontavornpinyo W, Saralamba S, Aguas R, Yeung S, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White NJ, White LJ. 2009. The last man standing is the most resistant: eliminating artemisinin-resistant malaria in Cambodia. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 31. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is now the recommended first-line treatment for falciparum malaria throughout the world. Initiatives to eliminate malaria are critically dependent on its efficacy. There is recent worrying evidence that artemisinin resistance has arisen on the Thai-Cambodian border. Urgent containment interventions are planned and about to be executed. Mathematical modeling approaches to intervention design are now integrated into the field of malaria epidemiology and control. The use of such an approach to investigate the likely effectiveness of different containment measures with the ultimate aim of eliminating artemisinin-resistant malaria is described. METHODS: A population dynamic mathematical modeling framework was developed to explore the relative effectiveness of a variety of containment interventions in eliminating artemisinin-resistant malaria in western Cambodia. RESULTS: The most effective intervention to eliminate artemisinin-resistant malaria was a switch of treatment from artemisinin monotherapy to ACT (mean time to elimination 3.42 years (95% CI 3.32-3.60 years). However, with this approach it is predicted that elimination of artemisinin-resistant malaria using ACT can be achieved only by elimination of all malaria. This is because the various forms of ACT are more effective against infections with artemisinin-sensitive parasites, leaving the more resistant infections as an increasing proportion of the dwindling parasite population. CONCLUSION: Containment of artemisinin-resistant malaria can be achieved by elimination of malaria from western Cambodia using ACT. The "last man standing" is the most resistant and thus this strategy must be sustained until elimination is truly achieved.

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