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Dreyer G, Addiss D, Noroes J.

DOES LONGEVITY OF ADULT WUCHERERIA BANCROFTI INCREASE WITH DECREASING INTENSITY OF PARASITE TRANSMISSION? INSIGHTS FROM CLINICAL OBSERVATIONS.

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2005 Dec;99(12):883-92.

ABSTRACT

To interrupt transmission of Wuchereria bancrofti, a parasite that causes lymphatic filariasis, mass treatment of at-risk populations with antifilarial drugs is recommended for 4-6 years, the minimum estimated adult worm lifespan. Factors associated with adult worm longevity are unknown. In Recife, Brazil, we conducted a retrospective cohort study of 57 men whose adult W. bancrofti were not sensitive to diethylcarbamazine and who were followed with semi-annual physical examinations (to detect intrascrotal nodules, indicative of adult worm death) and ultrasound examinations (to detect the 'filaria dance sign' (FDS), indicative of living adult worms). After 5 years, the FDS remained detectable in 10 (24.4%) of 41 adult worm nests in 25 men from areas of high filariasis transmission intensity and in 30 (90.9%) of 33 nests in 32 men from areas of low transmission (P<0.001). New nodules and adult worm nests were detected only in men from high-transmission areas. Of 30 men who were microfilaria-positive initially and whose FDS remained detectable after 5 years of follow-up, 19 (63.3%) remained microfilaria-positive in 5 ml blood (mean density, 0.4 per ml). In conclusion, survival of adult W. bancrofti is inversely associated with transmission intensity. These findings have implications for filariasis elimination and research.