To eliminate Lymphatic filariasis (LF) as a public health problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that any area with infection prevalence greater than or equal to 1% (denoted by presence of microfilaremia or antigenemia) should receive mass drug administration (MDA) of antifilarial drugs for at least five consecutive rounds. Areas of low-antigen prevalence (<1%) are thought to pose little risk for continued transmission of LF. Five low-antigen prevalence communes in Haiti, characterized as part of a national survey, were further assessed for transmission in this study. An initial evaluation of schoolchildren was performed in each commune to identify antigen-positive children who served as index cases for subsequent community surveys conducted among households neighboring the index cases. Global positioning system (GPS) coordinates and immunochromatographic tests (ICT) for filarial antigenemia were collected on approximately 1,600 persons of all ages in the five communes. The relationship between antigen-positive cases in the community and distance from index cases was evaluated using multivariate regression techniques and analyses of spatial clustering. Community surveys demonstrated higher antigen prevalence in three of the five communes than was observed in the original mapping survey; autochthonous cases were found in the same three communes. Regression techniques identified a significantly increased likelihood of being antigen-positive when living within 20 meters of index cases when controlling for age, gender, and commune. Spatial clustering of antigen-positive cases was observed in some, but not all communes. Our results suggest that localized transmission was present even in low-prevalence settings and suggest that better surveillance methods may be needed to detect microfoci of LF transmission.
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