Reduction in the Prevalence of Clinical Filariasis in Tahiti Following Adoption of a Control Program

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  • Institut de Recherche Médicales de la Polynesie Française, Department of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, University of California, Papeete, Tahiti
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In order to evaluate the filariasis control program in Tahiti, surveys made before and after 5 years of standardized treatment and mosquito control are compared. Both surveys were made on a cross-section of the male population covering clinical manifestations of filariasis. The surveys for both microfilaremia and elephantiasis covered the total male population of 15 districts, 3390 in 1949 and 4262 in 1959 for microfilaremia and 7360 for elephantiasis.

The most important findings are: 1. Overall microfilaremia was reduced from 37.9% to 6.5%. 2. Elephantiasis dropped from 6.9% to 2.2% for all males and in the significant laboring age group of 20 to 40 years it fell from 5% to 0.6%. 3. Total hydroceles were reduced from 9.8% to 3.2%. 4. Acute filarial lymphangitis attacks fell from 36.0% to 4.0% among males surveyed above the age of 20 years. 5. No new cases of elephantiasis or hydrocele developed following application of control measures. 6. Thus a marked decrease in total disability among persons suffering from filariasis was apparent in 1959. 7. Mass treatment was well accepted by the population.

It can therefore be concluded that a combined program of mosquito control and mass chemotherapy with diethylcarbamazine not only greatly lowers the prevalence of microfilaremia but also is followed by marked reductions of the clinical signs of filariasis.

Author Notes

Aided by gifts to the Pacific Tropic Diseases Project and by grants from the China Medical Board of New York, Inc., and U. S. Public Health Service Grant, #E-392.