The Disappearance of Bancroftian Filariasis from Charleston, South Carolina

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  • Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115

I suggest the hypothesis that bancroftian filariasis, endemic since the early days of slavery in Charleston, South Carolina, disappeared around 1930 by virtue of the long-term effects of a municipal sewerage-water system begun in the 1890s or thereabouts. These public works, originally intended to abate typhoid and related diseases, helped to eliminate filariasis by reducing the availability of polluted domestic waters which are the preferred breeding sites for the urban vector, Culex quinquefasciatus (=fatigans). Cause and effect having been separated by some three decades, the epidemiologic connections between these events in Charleston seem not to have been appreciated hitherto.