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Guinea worm disease (GWD) is both a neglected tropical disease and an environmentally driven infectious disease. Environmentally driven infectious diseases remain one of the biggest health threats for human welfare in developing countries and the threat is increased by the looming danger of climate change. In this paper we present a multiscale model of GWD that integrates the within-host scale and the between-host scale. The model is used to concurrently examine the interactions between the three organisms that are implicated in natural cases of GWD transmission, the copepod vector, the human host, and the protozoan worm parasite (Dracunculus medinensis), and identify their epidemiological roles. The results of the study (through sensitivity analysis of R0) show that the most efficient elimination strategy for GWD at between-host scale is to give highest priority to copepod vector control by killing the copepods in drinking water (the intermediate host) by applying chemical treatments (e.g., temephos, an organophosphate). This strategy should be complemented by health education to ensure that greater numbers of individuals and communities adopt behavioural practices such as voluntary reporting of GWD cases, prevention of GWD patients from entering drinking water bodies, regular use of water from safe water sources, and, in the absence of such water sources, filtering or boiling water before drinking. Taking into account the fact that there is no drug or vaccine for GWD (interventions which operate at within-host scale), the results of our study show that the development of a drug that kills female worms at within-host scale would have the highest impact at this scale domain with possible population level benefits that include prevention of morbidity and prevention of transmission.


Rendani Netshikweta, Winston Garira. A Multiscale Model for the World's First Parasitic Disease Targeted for Eradication: Guinea Worm Disease. Computational and mathematical methods in medicine. 2017;2017:1473287

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PMID: 28808479

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