Volume 33, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Bancroftian filariasis has been reported in several areas of Papua New Guinea. The epidemiologic features and natural history of infection in this geographic region, however, have not been well-defined. The objective of this study was to assess the parasitological and clinical features of bancroftian filariasis in a community in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. In a village of 99 individuals, the overall prevalence of microfilaremia was 68%. The microfilarial carrier rate was high in those ≤ 10 years (62%), remained elevated in the 11–20, 21–30, and 31–40 age groups (42–55%), and peaked in subjects ≥41 years old (90%). The geometric mean level of parasitemia in all subjects with patent infection was 3,198 microfilariae/ml blood. This value was 78 parasites/ml in the ≤10-year-old age group, increased to 1,753 in 21 to 30-year-olds and was markedly elevated in subjects ≥41 years old (6, 792 microfilariae/ml). Acute symptoms of filariasis (lymphadenitis and lymphangitis) were initially noted in individuals between the ages of 11 and 20 years (30%). Obstructive disease, manifested as elephantiasis and hydroceles, was present in 64 and 79% of 31–40 and ≥41-year-olds, respectively. These data suggest that intense transmission of infection occurs at an early age in this area of East Sepik Province; patent infection remains high in older age groups. Irreversible lymphatic obstruction develops 20–30 years after initial infection and may be associated with either amicrofilaremia or microfilaremia.


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