METHODS: Children aged 5-18 years from Odisha, India were screened for W. bancrofti infection and disease. 102 infected children, 50 with filarial disease and 52 without symptoms were investigated by lymphoscintigraphy and then randomized to receive a supervised single oral dose of DEC and albendazole which was repeated either annually or semi-annually. The lymphatic pathology was evaluated six monthly for two years.
FINDINGS: Baseline lymphoscintigraphy showed abnormality in lower limb lymphatics in 80% of symptomatic (40/50) and 63·5% (33/52) of asymptomatic children. Progressive improvement in baseline pathology was seen in 70·8, 87·3, 98·6, and 98·6% of cases at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months follow up, while in 4·2, 22·5, 47·9 and 64·8%, pathology reverted to normal. This was independent of age (p = 0·27), symptomatic status (p = 0·57) and semi-annual/bi-annual dosing (p = 0·46). Six of eleven cases showed clinical reduction in lymphedema of legs.
INTERPRETATION: A significant proportion of a young W. bancrofti infected population exhibited lymphatic pathology which was reversible with annual dosage of DEC and albendazole. This provides evidence for morbidity prevention & treatment of early lymphedema. It can also be used as a tool to improve community compliance during mass drug administration.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov No CTRI/2013/10/004121.