Active case detection methods for crusted scabies and leprosy: A systematic review

Miriam Glennie, Karen Gardner, Michelle Dowden, Bart J. Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Background Crusted scabies is endemic in some remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia and carries a high mortality risk. Improvement in active case detection (ACD) for crusted scabies is hampered by a lack of evidence about best practice. We therefore conducted a systematic review of ACD methods for leprosy, a condition with similar ACD require-ments, to consider how findings could be informative to crusted scabies detection. 

Methods and principle findings We conducted systematic searches in MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus and the Cochrane Data-base for Systematic Reviews for studies published since 1999 that reported at least one comparison rate (detection or prevalence rate) against which the yield of the ACD method could be assessed. The search yielded 15 eligible studies from 511. Study heterogeneity precluded meta-analysis. Contact tracing and community screening of marginalised ethnic groups yielded the highest new case detection rates. Rapid community screening cam-paigns, and those using less experienced screening personnel, were associated with lower suspect confirmation rates. There is insufficient data to assess whether ACD campaigns improve treatment outcomes or disease control. 

Conclusion This review demonstrates the importance of ACD campaigns in communities facing the highest barriers to healthcare access and within neighbourhoods of index cases. The potential benefit of ACD for crusted scabies is not quantified, however, lessons from leprosy suggest value in follow-up with previously identified cases and their close contacts to support for scabies control and to reduce the likelihood of reinfection in the crusted scabies case. Skilled screening personnel and appropriate community engagement strategies are needed to maximise screening uptake. More research is needed to assess ACD cost effectiveness, impact on disease control, and to explore ACD methods capable of capturing the homeless and highly mobile who may be missed in household centric models.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0009577
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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