The effect of pregnancy on Wuchereria bancrofti microfilarial load in humans

N. D.E. Alexander, B. T. Grenfell

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15 Scopus citations


As part of a drug trial against bancroftian filariasis in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea we measured the pretreatment microfilarial densities of 2219 individuals. Mean levels generally increased with age in both sexes, with a tendency to plateau at the highest ages. However, there was a reduction among women of approximately reproductive age. Allowing for the tendency for aggregation to decrease with age, this reduction was statistically significant. However, a comparison of pregnant women and controls showed no evidence that the reduction is specifically related to pregnancy. Moreover, a simple differential equation model of microfilarial acquisition and loss suggests that age-specific patterns of exposure are also unlikely to be solely responsible. Therefore, we suggest that the observed reduction in microfilarial intensity may result from hormonal changes associated with female reproduction, possibly in combination with other factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-156
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Parasitology


  • Age factors
  • Infection susceptibility
  • Lymphatic filariasis
  • Sex factors
  • Wuchereria bancrofti


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