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Lymphatic Filariasis mass drug administration underway in American Samoa

American Samoa Dept. of Health logo
Source: AS-DOH media release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On Monday, September 24, 2018, the Department of Health, with the support of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, cabinet members, legislature, government and non-government agencies, faith-based denominations and communities at large launched the lymphatic filariasis (LF) Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for the territory of American Samoa at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium.

ASDOH has been planning this MDA for the past year with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Pacific Islands Health Officers Association (PIHOA).

There was a church service to bless this monumental event on Sunday, September 23, at the Fagaalu Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa.

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) or mūmū tutupa in Samoan, is a parasitic disease caused by worms that are spread between people by mosquitoes. Infection can cause swelling of the arms, legs and other body parts. People can become infected with the worms  for a long time before they start to see the effects of the disease.

Mass drug administration (MDA) is the process of giving medication to all eligible persons in the community to stop lymphatic filariasis. Participating in the MDA will ensure you and your family are protected from its effects. Taking the medication will also treat other conditions such as intestinal worms and scabies.

American Samoa has not been able to eliminate LF infections despite many years of LF MDA from 2000- 06. By becoming involved, you have the opportunity to help yourself, your family, your community, your country and other countries globally in the fight against LF.


Everyone will be asked to drink the LF pills except for the following:

  1. 1.         Pregnant women — Pregnant women should wait to participate in the MDA until after they are no longer pregnant for safety reasons;
  2. 2.         Breastfeeding mothers — Women who are currently breastfeeding should wait until after they are no longer breastfeeding to participate in the MDA for safety reasons; and
  3. 3.         Children under 2 years of age — Parents of children under 2 years old are advised not to have their children participate in the MDA due to limited information on the safe use in this age group.

Everyone will be given LF pills at a MDA designated site.

A consent form will be required to be signed, and parents/ guardians will be required to sign for minors (under 18).

Medication will be dosed based on your weight. 

There are three (3) medications you will receive: Ivermectin (IVM), Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole (ALB).

The medications will target the worms and prevent you from spreading the worms to other people, as well as prevent you from developing the effects of the disease.  You will be asked to take all your medicine at the MDA site — none will be allowed to be taken home.

This MDA will be carried out in 2 phases:

Phase I (Sept. 24 – Oct. 14): Large gathering areas such as ASG workplaces, businesses, schools, churches, village guest houses, bingo halls, market, shopping centers, etc.

  • •           Week 1: ASG departments and private businesses
  • •           Week 2: Schools (ECE, elementary and high schools)
  • •           Week 3: Villages
  • •           Weekends 1 - 3: Churches and businesses

Phase II (Oct. 15 – 21): House to house visits to all those who could not make it to Phase 1 sites (were either bedridden or were very sick at the time of Phase 1).

As with any medication, there is a chance of side effects or a reaction. These are usually mild and go away on their own. There are also serious but rare side effects to look out for.

After taking the medicine at the MDA, a person might experience:

Minor effects: Tiredness or weakness, Fever, Headache/dizziness, Sore stomach, and Nausea/ vomiting

Rare effects: Skin Rash or allergic reaction within 24 hrs of taking the medicine, Swelling of the face (lips), Very high fever, and Difficulty breathing

The community is asked to eat a meal or a snack before they come and receive their pills.

If you experience any of the rare side effects please seek help immediately by going to the LBJ emergency room, Tafuna Community Health Center or call 699-6380 or the LF Hotline at 770-1576  for medical advice.

A final weekly schedule will be released no later than Friday morning, September 21, 2018 to include the various distribution sites where individuals will be asked to take their LF pills.