Wuchereria bancrofti infection is associated with progression to clinical visceral leishmaniasis in VL- endemic areas in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India

Abhishek Kumar Singh, T de Gooyer, Om Prakash Singh, S Pandey, A Neyaz, K Cloots, S Kansal, P Malaviya, M Rai, S Nylen, J Chakravarty, E Hasker, S Sundar

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Co-endemicity of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) necessitates that these diseases should be considered concomitantly to understand the relationship between pathology and to support disease management and control programs. The aims of the study were to assess the prevalence of filarial infection in asymptomatic Leishmania donovani infected individuals and the correlation of Wuchereria bancrofti infection with progression to clinical visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Bihar, India.

Methodology/Principal findings
Within the Muzaffarpur-TMRC Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) area, a cohort of Leishmania seropositive (n = 476) or seronegative individuals (n = 1130) were sampled annually for three years for filarial infection and followed for progression to clinical VL. To corroborate the results from the cohort study, we also used a retrospective case-control study of 36 VL cases and 71 controls selected from a subset of the HDSS population to investigate the relationship between progression to clinical VL and the prevalence of filarial infection at baseline. Our findings suggest a higher probability of progression to clinical VL in individuals with a history of filarial infection: in both the cohort and case-control studies, progression to clinical VL was higher among filaria infected individuals (RR = 2.57, p = 0.056, and OR = 2.52, p = 0.046 respectively).

This study describes that progression to clinical VL disease is associated with serological evidence of prior infection with W. bancrofti. The integration of disease programs for Leishmania and lymphatic filariasis extend beyond the relationship of sequential or co-infection with disease burden. To ensure elimination targets can be reached and sustained, we suggest areas of co-endemicity would benefit from overlapping vector control activities, health system networks and surveillance infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0011729
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number10
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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