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Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2009 Apr;103(3):235-47. doi: 10.1179/136485909X398249.

Antifilarial drugs, in the doses employed in mass drug administrations by the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, reverse lymphatic pathology in children with Brugia malayi infection.

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Filariasis Chemotherapy Unit, T.D. Medical College Hospital, Alappuzha - 688 011, Kerala, India.


Lymphatic filariasis is increasingly viewed as the result of an infection that is often acquired in childhood. The lymphatic pathology that occurs in the disease is generally believed to be irreversible. In a recent study in India, Doppler ultrasonography and lymphoscintigraphy were used to explore subclinical pathology in 100 children from an area endemic for Brugia malayi infection. All the children investigated showed some evidence of current or previous filarial infection. Some were microfilaraemic but asymptomatic, some were amicrofilaraemic but had filarial disease or a past history of microfilaraemia and/or filarial disease, and the rest, though amicrofilaraemic, asymptomatic and without any history of microfilaraemia or filarial disease, were seropositive for antifilarial IgG(4) antibodies. All the children were treated every 6 months, with a single combined dose of diethylcarbamazine (6 mg/kg) and albendazole (400 mg), and followed up for 24 months. By the end of this period all but one of the children were amicrofilaraemic and the 'filarial dance sign' could not be detected in any of the 14 children who had initially been found positive for this sign. Although lymphoscintigraphy revealed lymph-node and lymph-vessel damage in 82% of the children at enrolment, in about 67% of the children this pathology was markedly reduced by the 24-month follow-up. These results indicate that the drug regimens used in the mass drug administrations run by the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis are capable of reversing subclinical lymphatic damage and can provide benefits other than interruption of transmission in endemic areas. The implications of these findings are presented and discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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