BACKGROUND: Taenia solium typically affects resource-poor communities where pigs are allowed to roam freely, and sanitation and hygiene levels are suboptimal. Sustainable, long-term strategies are urgently needed to control the disease. Geographically targeted interventions, i.e. screening or treatment of taeniosis among people living near infected pigs (defined as ring screening and ring treatment, respectively), have been shown to be effective control options in Peru. However, these results might not be directly generalizable to sub-Saharan African settings. Pig movements play a vital role in the transmission and, consequently, the success of ring interventions against T. solium. The aim of the present study was to explore roaming patterns of pigs in T. solium endemic communities in Zambia as a first step toward evaluating whether ring interventions should be considered as a treatment option in Zambia.
METHODS: In total, 48 free-roaming pigs in two rural neighborhoods in the Eastern Province of Zambia were tracked using a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. Tracking took place in April (end of the rainy season) 2019 and October (end of the dry season) 2019. The number of revisitations and the time spent within rings of different radii (50, 100 and 250 m) around the coordinates of each pig owner's household were calculated for each pig.
RESULTS: The total tracking time for 43 pigs in the final analysis set ranged between 43 and 94 h. Pigs spent a median of 31% and 13% of the tracked time outside the 50- and 100-m radius, respectively, although large variations were observed between pigs. Overall, 25 pigs (58%) went outside the 250-m ring at least once, and individual excursions lasting up to 16 h were observed. In the dry season, 17 out of 23 pigs went outside the 250-m radius compared to only eight out of 20 pigs in the rainy season (P = 0.014).
CONCLUSIONS: In our study sites in Zambia, the majority of pigs spent most of their time within 50 or 100 m of their owner's home, and these results are comparable with those on Peruvian pigs. Both radii could therefore be considered reasonable options in future ring interventions.