Control of Trachoma in Australia: A Model Based Evaluation of Current Interventions

Andrew J Shattock, Manoj Gambhir, Hugh R Taylor, Carleigh S Cowling, John Martin Kaldor, David P Wilson

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Background: Australia is the only high-income country in which endemic trachoma persists. In response, the Australian Government has recently invested heavily towards the nationwide control of the disease. Methodology/Principal Findings: A novel simulation model was developed to reflect the trachoma epidemic in Australian Aboriginal communities. The model, which incorporates demographic, migration, mixing, and biological heterogeneities, was used to evaluate recent intervention measures against counterfactual past scenarios, and also to assess the potential impact of a series of hypothesized future intervention measures relative to the current national strategy and intensity. The model simulations indicate that, under the current intervention strategy and intensity, the likelihood of controlling trachoma to less than 5% prevalence among 5–9 year-old children in hyperendemic communities by 2020 is 31% (19%–43%). By shifting intervention priorities such that large increases in the facial cleanliness of children are observed, this likelihood of controlling trachoma in hyperendemic communities is increased to 64% (53%–76%). The most effective intervention strategy incorporated large-scale antibiotic distribution programs whilst attaining ambitious yet feasible screening, treatment, facial cleanliness and housing construction targets. Accordingly, the estimated likelihood of controlling trachoma in these communities is increased to 86% (76%–95%). Conclusions/Significance: Maintaining the current intervention strategy and intensity is unlikely to be sufficient to control trachoma across Australia by 2020. However, by shifting the intervention strategy and increasing intensity, the likelihood of controlling trachoma nationwide can be significantly increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0003474
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2015

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