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BACKGROUND: Great progress is being made toward the goal of elimination as a public health problem for neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy, human African trypanosomiasis, Buruli ulcer, and visceral leishmaniasis, which relies on intensified disease management and case finding. However, strategies for maintaining this goal are still under discussion. Passive surveillance is a core pillar of a long-term, sustainable surveillance program. METHODS: We use a generic model of disease transmission with slow epidemic growth rates and cases detected through severe symptoms and passive detection to evaluate under what circumstances passive detection alone can keep transmission under control. RESULTS: Reducing the period of infectiousness due to decreasing time to treatment has a small effect on reducing transmission. Therefore, to prevent resurgence, passive surveillance needs to be very efficient. For some diseases, the treatment time and level of passive detection needed to prevent resurgence is unlikely to be obtainable. CONCLUSIONS: The success of a passive surveillance program crucially depends on what proportion of cases are detected, how much of their infectious period is reduced, and the underlying reproduction number of the disease. Modeling suggests that relying on passive detection alone is unlikely to be enough to maintain elimination goals.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Infect Dis

Publication Date





S169 - S174


elimination, mathematical modelling, neglected tropical diseases, Humans, Neglected Diseases, Disease Eradication, Public Health, Tropical Medicine, Population Surveillance