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The control or elimination of neglected tropical diseases has recently become the focus of increased interest and funding from international agencies through the donation of drugs. Resources are becoming available for the treatment of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection through school-based deworming strategies. However, little research has been conducted to assess the impact of STH treatment that could be used to guide the design of efficient elimination programs.We construct and analyse an age-structured model of STH population dynamics under regular treatment. We investigate the potential for elimination with finite rounds of treatment, and how this depends on the value of the basic reproductive number R0 and treatment frequency.Analysis of the model indicates that its behaviour is determined by key parameter groupings describing the basic reproduction number and the fraction of it attributable to the treated group, the timescale of material in the environment and the frequency and efficacy of treatment. Mechanisms of sexual reproduction and persistence of infectious material in the environment are found to be much more important in the context of elimination than in the undisturbed baseline scenario. For a given rate of drug use, sexual reproduction dictates that less frequent, higher coverage treatment is more effective. For a given treatment coverage level, the lifespan of infectious material in the environment places a limit on the effectiveness of increased treatment frequency.Our work suggests that for models to capture the dynamics of parasite burdens in populations under regular treatment as elimination is approached, they need to include the effects of sexual reproduction among parasites and the dynamics infectious material in the reservoir. The interaction of these two mechanisms has a strong effect on optimum treatment strategies, both in terms of how frequently to treat and for how long.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, St Marys Campus, Norfolk Place, London, United Kingdom.


Animals, Humans, Helminths, Helminthiasis, Soil, Population Dynamics, Reproduction, Models, Theoretical, Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Male