- 薬史学雑誌 (ISSN:02852314)
- vol.54, no.2, pp.83-88, 2019 (Released:2020-07-11)
Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as testicular hydrocele and elephantiasis, is one of the neglected tropical disease (NTDs). This infectious disease occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes (in Japan Culex pipiens pallens).
Japan is the first country to control lymphatic filariasis and eradicate it. Controlling and eradicating it was mainly based on blood examination and chemotherapy with diethylcarbamazine (DEC).
In 1962, the government of Japan initiated the National Filariasis Control Program in some areas of Kyushu (e.g., Kagoshima Prefecture including the highly endemic Amami Islands), Shikoku (Ehime Prefecture) and Tokyo (Hachijo-kojima Island in the southern Izu archipelago).The program was extremely successful, and the number of microfilaria carriers decreased quickly.
In the highly endemic area of Okinawa, formerly called Ryukyu, which was under U.S. occupation from 1945 to 1972, the eradication program was started in 1965 with the assistance of the Japanese government and the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR).
In January 1965, a filariasis control campaign was started on the Miyako Islands based on the dedication of the community inhabitants. This control activity then encouraged campaigns on other islands (Yaeyama and the main island of Okinawa).
Lymphatic filariasis was finally eliminated from all Okinawa Islands in 1978. A stone monument commemorating the eradication of filariasis was built in the front garden of the Miyako Health Center on November 25, 1988. The unveiling ceremony also celebrated the completion of filariasis control on Okinawa Islands and throughout all of Japan.
Controlling and eradicating lymphatic filariasis in Japan is the result of Japan's world-class pharmacy and medical wisdom, as well as the efforts of industry, government and academia. It is a great drama full of humanism.