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Keywords:

  • Wuchereria bancrofti;
  • filariasis;
  • Ghana;
  • epidemiology;
  • irrigation;
  • rice;
  • vectors;
  • microfilarial periodicity

Summary An epidemiological study to document the endemicity and transmission characteristics of bancroftian filariasis was conducted in an irrigation project community in southern Ghana. In a 50% random sample of the population, the prevalence of microfilaraemia was 26.4% and the geometric mean microfilarial intensity among positives was 819 microfilariae/ml of blood. Hydrocoele was found in 13.8% of the males aged >18 years, and 1.4% of the residents examined, all females, had lymphoedema/elephantiasis. Detailed monitoring of the microfilarial intensity in 8 individuals over a 24-h period confirmed its nocturnal periodicity with a peak at approximately 0100 hours. The most important vector was Anopheles gambiae s.l., followed by An. funestus. The abundance of these mosquitoes and their relative importance as vectors varied considerably between the wet and the dry season. Opening of the irrigation canals late in the dry season resulted in a remarkable increase in the population of An. gambiae (8.3% of which carried infective filarial larvae) to levels comparable to those seen during the wet season, suggesting that the irrigation project is responsible for increased transmission of lymphatic filariasis in the community.