Lymphatic filariasis in the Americas : an epidemiologic history
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Lymphatic filariasis in the Americas : an epidemiologic history

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    THE EPIDEMIOLOGY of lymphatic filariasis in the Americas is intimately linked to the social, political, and economic history of the region. After becoming established in Asia centuries ago, the filarial parasite Wuchereria bancrofti spread westward to Africa and the Middle East as a consequence of human migration. Forced migration of slaves from Africa first brought W. bancrofti to the Americas during the 1600s, where it flourished under conditions of human misery, poverty, and environmental degradation. Extensive migration, both forced and voluntary, facilitated transmission of the parasite throughout the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast. Later immigrants from other filariasis-endemic areas, particularly Asia, were most certainly infected with W. bancrofti, although the degree to which they introduced or reintroduced transmission of the parasite in the Americas is unclear.

    From the perspective of the parasitologist, W. bancrofti is an elegant and fascinating parasite. However, the total human suffering that results from infection with this organism can scarcely be imagined. In the Americas alone, up to 1 million people are infected in four countries: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Brazil. If global estimates hold true in the Americas, then approximately 200,000 men in this region suffer from filarial urogenital disease (hydrocele, chylocele, lymphedema of the penis and scrotum) and 100,000 persons, most often women, suffer from lymphedema or elephantiasis of the leg.

    Thanks to recent developments in diagnosis and antifilarial drug therapy, as well as advances in managing the chronic manifestations of lymphatic filariasis, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution in May 1997 that called for the "global elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem." In December of that same year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) designated the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Collaborating Center for Control and Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in the Americas. As a Collaborating Center, CDC was charged with providing information to WHO, P AHO, and member countries on the distribution and epidemiology of lymphatic filariasis in the Americas. This book is a result of that effort.

    Suggested citation: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lymphatic filariasis in the Americas : an epidemiologic history. Atlanta, Georgia : U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002.

  • Content Notes:
    PART 1. Arrival and Spread of Lymphativ Filariasis in the Americas -- Part 2. Countries with Current Active Transmission -- Part 3. Countries with Transmission That Apparently Stopped after 1980 -- Part 4. Countries with Transmission That Apparently Stopped before 1980 -- Part 5. Countries with Possible but Not Well-Documented Transmission -- Part 6. Countries with Imported Cases but No Apparent Transmission -- Part 7. Countries with No Documented Cases or Transmission.
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