Lymphatic filariasis (LF) affects 40 million individuals in 73 countries stretching from Africa to Asia. LF is an infection caused mainly by the filarial worms Wucheria bancrofti and Brugia malayii. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can lead to permanent disability from grossly disfigured limbs with thickened, hardened skin (lymphoedema, elephantiasis) and swollen scrotum (hydrocele). Those with severe symptoms are often unable to work and may suffer significant social stigma as a result of their disfigurement, and may be shunned by those in their communities.
In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) which has delivered drugs to treat and prevent this infection on an unprecedented scale. From 2000 to 2015, 6.2 billion treatments were delivered to 820 million people.
In the next few years, approximately 40 countries will have approached the elimination point. New diagnostics will be needed for surveillance programs that will be conducted over 5 years to ensure that there are no hidden reservoirs of infection, for instance due to incomplete coverage of the mass drug administration (MDA) programs, and to secure rapid interventions should the disease re-emerge. DDTD is aiming to create the next-generation diagnostic tests for lymphatic filariasis. (Learn more about LF on Wikipedia or the CDC website.)