Human Filariasis in the Marquesas Islands

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  • National Institutes of Health, National Microbiological Institute, Bethesda, Maryland

Relatively little information has been available on human filariasis (Wuchereria bancrofti) in the Marquesas Islands although it has been known that Aedes polynesiensis Marks, a vector of this parasite elsewhere in Polynesia, occurs on several of the islands of this archipelago (Marks, 1951). In June 1952 the author had the opportunity of visiting the six inhabited islands of the group for the purpose of making a brief filariasis and mosquito survey.

Findings. It was quickly apparent that filariasis is endemic in the Marquesas Islands. On each of the six inhabited islands (Nukuhiva, Uahuka, Uapou, Tahuata, Hivaoa, and Fatuhiva), which together have a population of approximately 3,000 individuals, at least 5 per cent of the total population had gross manifestations of elephantiasis. On each island there were individuals with elephantiasis who had never lived elsewhere. In addition, several Europeans who had never been exposed in other endemic areas of filariasis had also acquired elephantiasis in the Marquesas Islands.

Author Notes

The author is indebted to Mr. Herald Chapman for technical assistance in this survey.

Laboratory of Tropical Diseases.

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