Officials from the Health Department are accompanying students of the Pondicherry Community College and the Vector Control Research Centre on a door-to-door blood sample collection drive to assess the prevalence of filaria in Puducherry.

The team will travel to 48 different “sentinel sites” in rural and urban Puducherry during the night in order to collect around 20,000 blood samples. The samples will then be checked for the presence of microfilaria, which is the indicator of the presence of filarial parasite in the blood, an official of the VCRC told The Hindu.

Once the data is collated, it will be possible to arrive at a fairly accurate picture of filariasis prevalence in Puducherry.

Since 2004, the Government of Puducherry has been administering anti-filariasis drugs (a combination of Diethyl-carbamazine citrate (DEC) and albendazole) to the people. Now that they have completed seven rounds of the drugs with good coverage in drug delivery, it is time to assess the effects. This survey will help to determine the effectiveness of the campaign and to see whether or not to continue the drug delivery further.

Second survey

As part of the decision process for the continuation of the DEC and albendazole dosage to the public, VCRC will also be conducting a second survey in the first week of April to detect the antigen in children that were born after the anti-filarial campaign was started, the official said.

Although this survey is considering a large sample size, there have been surveys on a yearly basis. According to the survey conducted in 10 sites in 2012, there were no incidents of filariasis identified, the official said.

The programme is being conducted by the VCRC in association with the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.