Molecular epidemiology of trypanosomiasis in Ugandan cattle during the Stamping Out Sleeping Sickness control programme, 2006 – 2008
Hamill, Louise Claire
Over the past two decades movement of cattle towards the north of Uganda has enabled the Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense focus in south-eastern Uganda to spread into previously unaffected districts. This thesis brings together important epidemiological data regarding the impact of mass cattle drug treatment on the point prevalence of several different species of trypanosome in a newly endemic area of human sleeping sickness. Crucially the findings illustrate mass drug treatment is effective in reducing the prevalence of T. b. rhodesiense in cattle, thus minimising the reservoir potential of these animals in the epidemiology of human disease. During 2006 a control programme was launched to halt the northward spread of this zoonotic parasite. This programme, entitled ‘Stamping Out Sleeping Sickness’ (SOS) proposed to reduce the prevalence of Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) in the newly affected districts by reducing the prevalence of this parasite in the main animal reservoir of infection – domestic cattle. Cattle were mass treated using trypanocides to clear infections. Previous work demonstrated the prevalence of T. brucei s. l. and T. b. rhodesiense in cattle was higher in the districts of Dokolo and Kaberamaido than in the other SOS intervention districts (Selby 2011). To determine whether animals in these areas were also exposed to pathogenic cattle trypanosomes samples were screened for the presence of T. vivax and T. congolense savannah using PCR. Chapter three of this thesis determined the prevalence of these trypanosomes in cattle in these districts. Before treatment had taken place the prevalence of T. vivax was 2% (4/200, 95% CI 3.57 – 0.12%) in Dokolo and 7.3% (21/310, 95% CI 10.17 - 4.24 %) in Kaberamaido. The prevalence of T. congolense savannah at baseline was 3.5% (7/200, 95% CI 7.08–1.42 %) in Dokolo and 9.1% (21/230, 95% CI13.6–5.7 %) in Kaberamaido. Monitoring was conducted three, nine and 18 months post treatment and both pathogens were detected at all time points. The impact the treatment had on point prevalence varied by trypanosome species and between the two districts. Several clusters of villages in Dokolo and Kaberamaido continued to report cases of HAT after the initial SOS intervention due in part to their proximity to livestock markets (Batchelor et al., 2009). In 2008 re-treatment of these ‘high risk’ areas was undertaken. Monitoring was performed before and six months after treatment. Cattle blood samples were collected at 20 village sites from ten ‘case-positive villages’ (from which human sleeping sickness cases had been reported six months prior to June 2007) and from ten ‘case-negative villages’ (no reported human sleeping sickness cases six months prior to June 2007). These samples were screened for all of the aforementioned trypanosomes using species specific PCR protocols. Chapter five details the results of this screening, and assessed whether re-treatment in Dokolo and Kaberamaido was effective in reducing the prevalence of trypanosomiasis. The re-treatment had a dramatic effect, significantly reducing the point prevalence of overall trypanosomiasis in the 20 villages screened from 38.1% (95% CI = 40.5 – 35.79%) at baseline to 26.9% (95% CI 28.96 – 24.97, p < 0.0001) at six months. Looking at each species separately, point prevalence of three out of four detected species of trypanosome fell significantly, including T. b. rhodesiense, which was reduced to 25% of its baseline prevalence. Finally the two SOS treatment cycles were compared both statistically and spatially with emphasis on trends at village level and the occurrence of mixed infections.