• Journal Article

A 26-year follow-up of bancroftian filariasis in two communities in north-eastern Tanzania


Meyrowitsch, D. W., Simonsen, P. E., & Magesa, S. (2004). A 26-year follow-up of bancroftian filariasis in two communities in north-eastern Tanzania. Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology, 98(2), 155-169. DOI: 10.1179/000349804225003172


The results of surveys, for human bancroftian filariasis, carried out in 1975 and 1991 in endemic communities in north-eastern Tanzania have already been reported. In 2001, all consenting individuals from two of these communities (Tawalani and Kwale) were re-surveyed, and many of the individuals examined in the earlier surveys were re-identified. The findings revealed an extraordinarily static pattern of infection and disease over the 26 years of follow-up. By 2001, despite brief interventions introduced after the first two surveys, the community prevalences and mean intensities of microfilaraemia had almost returned to pre-treatment levels. The majority of re-identified individuals who had been found microfilaraemic in 1975 and 1991 were also microfilaraemic in 2001. Being found microfilaraemic in the first survey was a highly significant risk factor for being found microfilaraemic in the subsequent surveys. These observations strongly indicate that re-infection with Wuchereria bancrofti commonly takes place, and that, compared with an individual who has never been infected, an individual who has been infected in the past has a much higher chance of acquiring a new, detectable infection. As most of the re-identified individuals who were amicrofilaraemic in 2001 but microfilaraemic in one or both of the earlier surveys were still positive for circulating filarial antigens in 2001, it seems that, once an infection has been acquired, the chance of ever becoming free of infection is small. No relationship between past microfilaraemia and the development of chronic filariasis was observed but the number of clinical cases seen in 2001, among the re-identified individuals, was low. The significance of these findings to our understanding of the natural history of W. bancrofti infection is discussed