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Acta Trop. 2002 May;82(2):253-62.

Mathematical modelling of schistosomiasis japonica: comparison of control strategies in the People's Republic of China.

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  • 1Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health and Nutrition, The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


We present the first mathematical model on the transmission dynamics of Schistosoma japonicum. The work extends Barbour's classic model of schistosome transmission. It allows for the mammalian host heterogeneity characteristic of the S. japonicum life cycle, and solves the problem of under-specification of Barbour's model by the use of Chinese data we are collecting on human-bovine transmission in the Poyang Lake area of Jiangxi Province in China. The model predicts that in the lake/marshland areas of the Yangtze River basin: (1) once-yearly mass chemotherapy of humans is little better than twice-yearly mass chemotherapy in reducing human prevalence. Depending on the heterogeneity of prevalence within the population, targeted treatment of high prevalence groups, with lower overall coverage, can be more effective than mass treatment with higher overall coverage. Treatment confers a short term benefit only, with prevalence rising to endemic levels once chemotherapy programs are stopped; (2) depending on the relative contributions of bovines and humans, bovine treatment can benefit humans almost as much as human treatment. Like human treatment, bovine treatment confers a short-term benefit. A combination of human and bovine treatment will dramatically reduce human prevalence and maintains the reduction for a longer period of time than treatment of a single host, although human prevalence rises once treatment ceases; (3) assuming 75% coverage of bovines, a bovine vaccine which acts on worm fecundity must have about 75% efficacy to reduce the reproduction rate below one and ensure mid-term reduction and long-term elimination of the parasite. Such a vaccination program should be accompanied by an initial period of human treatment to instigate a short-term reduction in prevalence, following which the reduction is enhanced by vaccine effects; (4) if the bovine vaccine is only 45% efficacious (the level of current prototype vaccines) it will lower the endemic prevalence, but will not result in elimination. If it is accompanied by an initial period of human treatment and by a 45% improvement in human sanitation or a 30% reduction in contaminated water contact by humans, elimination is then possible.

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