Predicting the risk and speed of drug resistance emerging in soil-transmitted helminths during preventive chemotherapy

Luc E. Coffeng*, Wilma A. Stolk, Sake J. de Vlas

*Corresponding author for this work

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Control of soil-transmitted helminths relies heavily on regular large-scale deworming of high-risk groups (e.g., children) with benzimidazole derivatives. Although drug resistance has not yet been documented in human soil-transmitted helminths, regular deworming of cattle and sheep has led to widespread benzimidazole resistance in veterinary helminths. Here we predict the population dynamics of human soil-transmitted helminth infections and drug resistance during 20 years of regular preventive chemotherapy, using an individual-based model. With the current preventive chemotherapy strategy of mainly targeting children in schools, drug resistance may evolve in soil-transmitted helminths within a decade. More intense preventive chemotherapy strategies increase the prospects of soil-transmitted helminths elimination, but also increase the speed at which drug efficacy declines, especially when implementing community-based preventive chemotherapy (population-wide deworming). If during the last decade, preventive chemotherapy against soil-transmitted helminths has led to resistance, we may not have detected it as drug efficacy has not been structurally monitored, or incorrectly so. These findings highlight the need to develop and implement strategies to monitor and mitigate the evolution of benzimidazole resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1099
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2024

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