U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Trends in Parasitology, Volume 30, Issue 4, April 2014, Pages 163-169


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Six species of filariae infect humans in sub-Saharan Africa. We hypothesise that these nematodes are able to polyparasitise human hosts by having successfully, through competitive exclusion, adapted to distinct niches. Despite inhabiting the same host, adult stages reside in different tissue sites. Microfilariae of some species exhibit temporal separation by reaching peak levels in the blood at specific times of day. Spatial and temporal distributions in microfilaria location are exploited by the vector feeding-behaviour whereas adult survival is enhanced by occupying exclusive ‘ecological’ niches of the body. We present specific examples to demonstrate this concept, which is not only important from the biological aspect but important in the context of elimination programmes.