Assessing density dependence in the transmission of lymphatic filariasis: uptake and development of Wuchereria bancrofti microfilariae in the vector mosquitoes

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Understanding density dependence in the transmission of lymphatic filariasis is essential for assessing the prospects of elimination. This study seeks to quantify the relationship between microfilaria (Mf) density in human blood and the number of third stage (L3) larvae developing in the mosquito vectors Aedes polynesiensis Marks and Culex quinquefasciatus Say (Diptera: Culicidae) after blood-feeding. Two types of curves are fitted to previously published data. Fitting a linearized power curve through the data allows for correction for measurement error in human Mf counts. Ignoring measurement error leads to overestimation of the strength of density dependence; the degree of overestimation depends on the accuracy of measurement of Mf density. For use in mathematical models of transmission of lymphatic filariasis, a hyperbolic saturating function is preferable. This curve explicitly estimates the Mf uptake and development at lowest Mf densities and the average maximum number of L3 that can develop in mosquitoes. This maximum was estimated at 23 and 4 for Ae. polynesiensis and Cx. quinquefasciatus, respectively.

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