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Title: Long-lasting Insecticidal Nets to Prevent Visceral Leishmaniasis in the Indian Subcontinent; Methodological Lessons Learned from a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial
Author: Picado, Albert
Ostyn, Bart
Rijal, Suman
Sundar, Shyam
Singh, Shri Prakash
Chappuis, François
Das, Murari Lal
Khanal, Basudha
Gidwani, Kamlesh
Hasker, Epco
Dujardin, Jean Claude
Vanlerberghe, Veerl
Menten, Joris
Coosemans, Marc
Boelaert, Marleen
Keywords: Leishmaniosi
Àsia del sud
Assaigs clínics
South Asia
Clinical trials
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Abstract: In a recent paper, Nagpal et al. voiced concerns about the limited or biased use of scientific evidence to support public health interventions to control neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, is one of the major NTDs and does not escape this problem. Transmission is vector-borne and the Indian subcontinent is the region reporting most of the VL cases worldwide. In this region, the main causative species is Leishmania donovani and Phlebotomus argentipes is the vector. Transmission is considered anthroponotic and peridomestic—occurring at night when female sand flies bite people sleeping inside their house. The World Health Organization and the governments of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh set out in 2005 to eliminate VL from the region by 2015 through a combination of early treatment of cases and vector control. However, while recent advances in diagnostic tools and drugs have significantly improved case management strategies, the available vector control tools against P. argentipes remain limited. The elimination initiative promotes the use of indoor residual spraying (IRS) of households and cattle sheds to reduce vector density, but the evidence underpinning the effectiveness of IRS in this region is scanty. Historical observations show that L. donovani transmission declined concomitantly with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) spraying during the 1950s–60s to eradicate malaria. In the aftermath of this malaria eradication campaign, very few VL cases were observed in endemic regions until the mid-seventies, when there was resurgence of a VL epidemic in India. To date, there are no randomized trials showing the effect of IRS on the incidence of clinical VL, though some studies showed a reduction in vector density. When the VL elimination initiative was launched in 2005, there were no clear alternatives for IRS as a vector control strategy. Insecticide treated nets (ITNs) were proposed as an alternative or complement to IRS on the basis of analogy arguments regarding their given efficacy against malaria or on data from observational studies suggesting ITNs reduce the risk of VL; but as for IRS, there were no randomized trials evaluating the effect of ITNs on L. donovani transmission. In this context, a number of field studies were conducted in the Indian subcontinent in the past decade to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of ITNs and other vector control tools on VL. Most of these studies have been reviewed in detail in two recent papers. The only two studies evaluating the impact of vector control interventions on clinical outcomes found conflicting results. First, the KALANET project, a cluster randomised controlled trial (CRT) in India and Nepal, showed that mass-distribution of ITNs did not reduce the risk of L. donovani infection or clinical VL. Then, an intervention trial in Bangladesh suggested that widespread bed net impregnation with slow-release insecticide may reduce the frequency of VL. Technical (e.g., type of nets and insecticides, lack of replicas and randomisation in Bangladesh) and biological factors (e.g., insecticide susceptibility and sand fly behaviour) may explain the different results observed. This apparent contradiction raises the question about the role that ITN may play in controlling VL in the Indian subcontinent but has also triggered a lot of discussion on methodology and evidence levels required when evaluating vector control tools for VL. In this paper, we would like to summarise the lessons learned from the KALANET CRT in terms of methodology to inform the generation of future evidence and discuss interpretation of findings against this background.
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It is part of: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2015, vol. 9, num. 4, p. e0003597
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ISSN: 1935-2727
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (ISGlobal)

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