CystiSim - An Agent-Based Model for Taenia solium Transmission and Control

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Dec 16;10(12):e0005184. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005184. eCollection 2016 Dec.


Taenia solium taeniosis/cysticercosis was declared eradicable by the International Task Force for Disease Eradication in 1993, but remains a neglected zoonosis. To assist in the attempt to regionally eliminate this parasite, we developed cystiSim, an agent-based model for T. solium transmission and control. The model was developed in R and available as an R package ( cystiSim was adapted to an observed setting using field data from Tanzania, but adaptable to other settings if necessary. The model description adheres to the Overview, Design concepts, and Details (ODD) protocol and consists of two entities-pigs and humans. Pigs acquire cysticercosis through the environment or by direct contact with a tapeworm carrier's faeces. Humans acquire taeniosis from slaughtered pigs proportional to their infection intensity. The model allows for evaluation of three interventions measures or combinations hereof: treatment of humans, treatment of pigs, and pig vaccination, and allows for customary coverage and efficacy settings. cystiSim is the first agent-based transmission model for T. solium and suggests that control using a strategy consisting of an intervention only targeting the porcine host is possible, but that coverage and efficacy must be high if elimination is the ultimate goal. Good coverage of the intervention is important, but can be compensated for by including an additional intervention targeting the human host. cystiSim shows that the scenarios combining interventions in both hosts, mass drug administration to humans, and vaccination and treatment of pigs, have a high probability of success if coverage of 75% can be maintained over at least a four year period. In comparison with an existing mathematical model for T. solium transmission, cystiSim also includes parasite maturation, host immunity, and environmental contamination. Adding these biological parameters to the model resulted in new insights in the potential effect of intervention measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Internet
  • Swine / parasitology
  • Swine Diseases / parasitology
  • Swine Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Swine Diseases / transmission*
  • Taenia solium / physiology
  • Taeniasis / drug therapy
  • Taeniasis / parasitology
  • Taeniasis / transmission*
  • Vaccination
  • Zoonoses / parasitology
  • Zoonoses / prevention & control
  • Zoonoses / transmission

Grant support

The work was carried out with support from CYSTINET ( European Network on taeniosis/cysticercosis, COST ACTION TD1302. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.