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Lymphatic filariasis in Brazil: epidemiological situation and outlook for elimination

Gilberto Fontes12*, Anderson Brandão Leite1, Ana Rachel Vasconcelos de Lima1, Helen Freitas3, John Patrick Ehrenberg4 and Eliana Maria Mauricio da Rocha12

Author Affiliations

1 Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil

2 Universidade Federal de São João del Rei, Campus Centro Oeste, Rua Sebastião Gonçalves Coelho, 400, Divinópolis, Minas Gerais, 35501-296, Brazil

3 Secretaria de Vigilância em Saúde do Ministério da Saúde, Brasilia, Brazil

4 World Health Organization (WHO – WPRO), Western Pacific Regional Office, Manila, Philippines

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:272  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-272

Published: 26 November 2012


Since the World Health Assembly’s (Resolution WHA 50.29, 1997) call for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis by the year 2020, most of the endemic countries identified have established programmes to meet this objective. In 1997, a National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Plan was drawn up by the Ministry of Health of Brazil, creating local programs for the elimination of Bancroftian filariasis in areas with active transmission. Based on a comprehensive bibliographic search for available studies and reports of filariasis epidemiology in Brazil, current status of this parasitic infection and the outlook for its elimination in the country were analysed. From 1951 to 1958 a nationwide epidemiological study conducted in Brazil confirmed autochthonous transmission of Bancroftian filariasis in 11 cities of the country. Control measures led to a decline in parasite rates, and in the 1980s only the cities of Belém in the Amazonian region (Northern region) and Recife (Northeastern region) were considered to be endemic. In the 1990s, foci of active transmission of LF were also described in the cities of Maceió, Olinda, Jaboatão dos Guararapes, and Paulista, all in the Northeastern coast of Brazil. Data provide evidence for the absence of microfilaremic subjects and infected mosquitoes in Belém, Salvador and Maceió in the past few years, attesting to the effectiveness of the measures adopted in these cities. Currently, lymphatic filariasis is a public health problem in Brazil only in four cities of the metropolitan Recife region (Northeastern coast). Efforts are being concentrated in these areas, with a view to eliminating the disease in the country.

Lymphatic filariasis; Epidemiology; Wuchereria bancrofti; Bancroftian filariasis; Brazil