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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 141  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 598-607

Diurnally subperiodic filariasis among the Nicobarese of Nicobar district - epidemiology, vector dynamics & prospects of elimination

Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Port Blair & Vector Control Research Centre (ICMR), Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
P Vijayachari
Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Department of Health Research Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI, Port Blair 744 101, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.159537

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In India diurnally subperiodic filariasis (DspWB) is prevalent only in the Nicobar district of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Studies undertaken at different points of time indicate that this form of filariasis is restricted to a small region in Nancowry group of islands where it is transmitted by mosquito Downsiomyia nivea, a day biting mosquito. Studies on prevalence, distribution, and assessment of endemicity status, vector incrimination, bioecology, host seeking behaviour, population dynamics of the vector, transmission dynamics and clinical epidemiology indicate the prevalence and persistence of this infection in the Nancowry group of islands with perennial transmission. There was no control programme in these islands, until the National programme to eliminate filariasis was launched in 2004. Eight rounds of annual mass drug administration (MDA) with diethyl carbamazine (DEC) + albendazole have been completed. Despite this, microfilaria prevalence remains at above one per cent, the level identified for initiating transmission assessment survey to decide on continuation of MDA further. This necessitates adjunct measures to the ongoing MDA programme in these islands. The vector control options could be an adjunct measure, but the vector is a forest dweller with a unique bio-ecology, therefore, not a technically feasible option. Use of DEC fortified salt for six months to one year could hasten the process of elimination. Although administration of DEC-fortified salt is simple, rapid, safe, and cost-effective, challenges are to be tackled for evolving operationally realistic strategy. Such a strategy requires commitment of all sections of the society, a distribution mechanism that ensures the use of DEC-fortified salt in the Nancowry islands. Here we discuss the plan of action to serve the indigenous communities and operationalizing DEC fortified salt strategy through an inter-sectoral approach involving multiple stakeholders.

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