Background: Sub-Saharan Africa harbors the majority of the global burden of malaria and schistosomiasis infections. The co-endemicity of these two tropical diseases has prompted investigation into the mechanisms of coinfection, particularly the competing immunological responses associated with each disease. Epidemiological studies have shown that infection with Schistosoma mansoni is associated with a greater malaria incidence among school-age children.
Methodology: We developed a co-epidemic model of malaria and S. mansoni transmission dynamics which takes into account key epidemiological interaction between the two diseases in terms of elevated malaria incidence among individuals with S. mansoni high egg output. The model was parameterized for S. mansoni high-risk endemic communities, using epidemiological and clinical data of the interaction between S. mansoni and malaria among children in sub-Saharan Africa. We evaluated the potential impact of the S. mansoni-malaria interaction and mass treatment of schistosomiasis on malaria prevalence in co-endemic communities.
Principal findings: Our results suggest that in the absence of mass drug administration of praziquantel, the interaction between S. mansoni and malaria may reduce the effectiveness of malaria treatment for curtailing malaria transmission, in S. mansoni high-risk endemic communities. However, when malaria treatment is used in combination with praziquantel, mass praziquantel administration may increase the effectiveness of malaria control intervention strategy for reducing malaria prevalence in malaria- S. mansoni co-endemic communities.
Conclusions/significance: Schistosomiasis treatment and control programmes in regions where S. mansoni and malaria are highly prevalent may have indirect benefits on reducing malaria transmission as a result of disease interactions. In particular, mass praziquantel administration may not only have the direct benefit of reducing schistosomiasis infection, it may also reduce malaria transmission and disease burden.