Validation of a spatial agent-based model for Taenia solium transmission ("CystiAgent") against a large prospective trial of control strategies in northern Peru.
The pork tapeworm (Taenia solium) is a parasitic helminth that imposes a major health and economic burden on poor rural populations around the world. As recognized by the World Health Organization, a key barrier for achieving control of T. solium is the lack of an accurate and validated simulation model with which to study transmission and evaluate available control and elimination strategies. CystiAgent is a spatially-explicit agent based model for T. solium that is unique among T. solium models in its ability to represent key spatial and environmental features of transmission and simulate spatially targeted interventions, such as ring strategy.
We validated CystiAgent against results from the Ring Strategy Trial (RST)-a large cluster-randomized trial conducted in northern Peru that evaluated six unique interventions for T. solium control in 23 villages. For the validation, each intervention strategy was replicated in CystiAgent, and the simulated prevalences of human taeniasis, porcine cysticercosis, and porcine seroincidence were compared against prevalence estimates from the trial. Results showed that CystiAgent produced declines in transmission in response to each of the six intervention strategies, but overestimated the effect of interventions in the majority of villages; simulated prevalences for human taenasis and porcine cysticercosis at the end of the trial were a median of 0.53 and 5.0 percentages points less than prevalence observed at the end of the trial, respectively.
The validation of CystiAgent represented an important step towards developing an accurate and reliable T. solium transmission model that can be deployed to fill critical gaps in our understanding of T. solium transmission and control. To improve model accuracy, future versions would benefit from improved data on pig immunity and resistance, field effectiveness of anti-helminthic treatment, and factors driving spatial clustering of T. solium infections including dispersion and contact with T. solium eggs in the environment.
Pray, IW; Pizzitutti, F; Bonnet, G; Gonzales-Gustavson, E; Wakeland, W; Pan, WK; Lambert, WE; Gonzalez, AE; Garcia, HH; O'Neal, SE; Cysticercosis Working Group in Peru.,
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