• To determine if mass drug administration is an effective public health measure to reduce the prevalence of scabies (skin mite) and strongyloides (intestinal worm).
  • Conduct a population census at month 0 and 12 to collect data on scabies and strongyloides status
  • Implement a community-wide MDA with ivermectin at month 0 and 12
  • Conduct a cross sectional survey at month six with participants who were positive for scabies and/or strongyloides at month 0 to determine treatment failure rates. This will be repeated at month 18 for those positive at month 12
  • Screen a percentage of negative people at month six and 18 to determine acquisition rates.

Over 1300 people participated in the mass drug administration project from 2010-2012. Scabies prevalence fluctuated over the two years, reducing from 4% to 2% in the first year and from 9% to 4% in the second year. Strongyloides prevalence reduced from 21% to 5% in the first year and from 6% to 3% in the second year.

A particularly exciting aspect of the project was the training of local community workers in a newly developed, nationally accredited program, Certificate II in Child Health Research. Twelve graduates of the training program were employed on the project to work with a multidisciplinary team that included: pharmacy students, parasitologists, epidemiologists, registered nurses, health workers and medical practitioners.

Implications for policy and practice:

The MDA was an acceptable public health approach to the community and showed a significant and sustained reduction in the seroprevalence of Strongyloides. Scabies prevalence was able to be reduced after each MDA but a sustained reduction was not maintained due to an outbreak believed to be linked to a suspected crusted scabies case.

Our research has found:

We have presented data at national and international conferences highlighting the acceptability of mass drug administration. 

Chief investigator:
  • Professor Ross Andrews
Project manager:
  • Therese Kearns
Project dates:

The project ran from 2010 to 2012.

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
  1. ABC stateline report - beating scabies and strongyloidiasis

    ABC stateline report - beating scabies and strongyloidiasis


    The Menzies School of Health Research is hoping the drug Ivermectin will rid the Echo Island community, east of Darwin, of scabies and the strongyloides worm.