BY ABDUL WAHAB KHAN | NT
PANAJI: Goa will soon be officially declared as the first state in the country to totally eliminate filariasis after the completion of the final round of Transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) on filarial cases, which is scheduled to be carried out in mid-February, next year.
According to official figures, the confirmed cases of filariasis since 2007 have drastically fallen from eight cases to zero till date, putting the filaria infection rate for the entire population to less than 1 per cent.
Transmission Assessment Survey is a standard surveillance methodology employed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assess whether the series of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in a region has reduced the prevalence of microfilaria infection to such low levels that the infection cannot be transmitted in the community, even if mosquitoes, through which the disease is transmitted, are present.
The WHO guidelines state that when the number of microfilaria cases detected in a state is less than 20 every year, then it qualifies to be declared as a filariasis-free state.
The first step towards elimination of filariasis in the state was taken in 2004 with the introduction of mass administration of the drugs Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole to reduce microfilaria. After that, for five consecutive years, drug administration rounds were carried out and were able to reach out to almost 90 per cent of the total population.
In order to study the filaria transmission cases, the TAS survey was carried out last year and about 1,700 blood smear samples were collected of children between the age group of 6 and 7 years from all schools. Only 15 children showed the presence of microfilaria (mf). Moreover, no indigenous filaria cases were detected for the last seven years.
Speaking to this daily, deputy director of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) Sachin Govekar said, “Even with the high influx of migrants in the state, there will be minimal chances of transmission of filaria in Goa, because to get the filarial worms enter into a human body, that single mosquito should bite a particular human more than 100 times.”
He further said that the state has achieved the necessary results as required under the WHO guidelines for declaring Goa a filariasis-free state. Hence, he said, that next year after completion of the TAS survey, the state should be officially declared by WHO as filariasis-free state as we have not got a single indigenous filariasis case for the last three consecutive years. He said that it was possible with the mass community participation in consuming the anti-filariasis drugs.
Lymphatic filariasis causes considerable morbidity and permanent disability. While the infection is generally acquired in early childhood, the disease may manifest only in adulthood, during which time, there will be no outward symptoms.