Distribution and Incidence

Bancroftian filariasis is widely distributed throughout the tropics. Though it no longer exists in areas such as North America (most notably the Charleston, S.C. area), southern Europe, Australia, and some Caribbean islands, and is decreasing in prevalence in other Caribbean islands, Central America, and South America, W. bancrofti is becoming more prevalent in parts of Asia. At some time nearly every nonarid region of the tropics or subtropics as well as temperate parts of China and Japan has experienced W. bancrofti infection (Sasa 1976; Beaver et al. 1984; Mak 1987; Manson-Bahr and Bell 1987).

Although no precise count of the number of people infected with W. bancrofti exists, in 1984 the World Health Organization estimated that number at more than 81 million. Prevalence is highest in Asia (especially China, India, and Indonesia) and Africa. The disease affects primarily the rural and urban poor of working age living in areas of poor sanitation where mosquitoes abound (Mak 1987; Partono 1987).

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