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Division of Biology - School of Biological, Chemical and Environmental Sciences


BSSP NEWSLETTER, December 2002




December 2002

A message from the President….



The BSSP is now a little over two-and half years old and this year has been an especially exciting one for us with the Inter-Secondary School Biology Quiz in August. Next year is looking even more exciting with a regional quiz and more activities for the all members. We look forward to continuing to give you information and support in anyway we can so please feel free to contact us and give us your comments, suggestions, criticisms, etc. The BSSP belongs to all its members and works with their support so take an active interest in it and make it work for you, your people, friends, colleagues and country.

I hope you enjoy this newsletter

And Have a Wonderful 2003.

Dr. Anjeela D. Jokhan

How to contact us with feedback, comments and requests- send a letter to:

BSSP Newsletter,

c/- Biology Department,

The University of the South Pacific,

Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji.


Fax: 3315 601


Compiled by Permal Deo,

The University of the South Pacific

Ministry of Health, Fiji

Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known, as elephantiasis is a parasitic disease caused by nematode (thread-like) worms of the genera Wucheria and Brugia. Laval worms circulate in the bloodstream of infected humans and live in the lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic vessels are responsible for maintaining the body’s fluid and fight infections.

Life cycle and infection

Over 70 species of mosquitoes in the genera Culex, Anopheles, Aedes and Mansonia can infect humans with this disease. Mosquitoes pick up the tiny, microfilarial form of the parasite when taking blood meals from infected humans. In the mosquito, the microfilariae develop within 7-21 days into filariform larva. The filariform larva is infective to humans only. The larval worms move to a mosquito’s mouth and once bitten, the parasite can spread through a human community. Fortunately, many bites from infected mosquitoes are required before a person is infected with the disease.

Once, a human picks up filariform larvae from the mosquito bite, the larvae move to the lymphatic system, where they develop into adult worms. It usually takes 8-16 months after infection for symptoms of the disease to appear. The life span of adult worms is approximately seven years (microfilariae have a life span of from 3-36 months). In humans, the adult worms mate and the females produce millions of new microfilariae, which circulates in the blood stream. Microfilariae circulating in the bloodstream can then be picked up by mosquitoes taking blood meals.






There are acute and chronic manifestations of lymphatic filariasis.

Acute episodes of local inflammation involving skin, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels often accompany the chronic lymphoedema or elephantiasis.

In endemic communities, some 10-50% of men suffer from genital damage, especially hydrocoele (fluid-filled balloon-like enlargement of the sacs around the testes) and elephantiasis of the penis and scrotum.

Elephantiasis of the entire leg, the entire arm, the vulva, or the breast-swelling up to several times normal size – can affect up to 10% of men and women.


Treatment involves 2 components

getting rid of the microfilariae in people’s blood, so that transmission cycle is broken

maintaining careful hygiene in infected persons to reduce the incidence and severity of secondary infections.

anti-filariasis medicines include diethylcarbamazine, albendazole and ivermectin. Treated with single-dose regiments of a combination of two drugs.

Fiji’s statistics and approach taken to resolve the problem

Mean infection rate :

5.1%(1991-1995 blood survey)

16.6% (2001 ICT survey)

Clinical disease : 1 %

At risk population :

Total: 153,094 (18%)

Central : 102,603 (33.9%)

Western: 20,879 (6.4%)

Northern: 22,290 (14.3%)

Eastern : 7,322 (15.8%)

Fijians> Indians

Males> Females (2:1)

(Source: Ministry of Health, 2002)

Ministry of Health has recently introduced a program that is already underway, where the entire population is undergoing medication in order to eradicate the parasites responsible for causing lymphatic filariasis. Two types of drugs that are administrated – diethylcarbamazine (reduces microfilariae concentrations and also kills adult worms) is dispensed to the patient whose weight is known and albendazole ( kills adult worms) to people irrespective of weight and age. Moreover, pregnant women, infants below the age of two years, very sickly and very elderly people are not included in this program.


Lawrence Raj Narayan, Mani Naiker and Subramaniam Sotheeswaran

Chemistry Dept, USP.

Anti-oxidants are substances that prevent or slow down oxidation reactions hence, prevent or stop free radical damage. Anti-oxidants can help protect against certain diseases including cancer, diabetes, eye disease, heart disease, and more. They have even been shown to slow the effects of aging.

Most antioxidants are naturally occurring polyphenols such as anthocyanins, coumarins, flavonols and flavones, all of which, are fruit and floral pigments (give color to fruit and flowers). Therefore, extraction of these pigments and their relative concentration can provide information on which foods are more anti-oxidant containing than others. This information and also that anti-oxidants can be used as chronic disease inhibitors, can be used to set-up or compile a list of foods which are anti-oxidant rich and are available locally.

In this study, the antioxidant polyphenols present in some local food items were determined using Folin-Ciocalteau’s colorimetric method. Gallic Acid was used as the standard and all concentrations of total polyphenol content of the food analyzed were expressed in terms of Gallic Acid Equivalents. The detection limit for the method was determined and an analysis of variance (ANOVA) test was carried out to decipher the significance of the results between samples.

The results obtained from the study showed that local khatta bhaji, dalo (Colocasia esculenta) leaves, bele (Abelmoschus manihot), guava (Psidium guajava), noni/kura (Morinda citrifolia) juice, and black tea sold in Fiji (Punjas, Bushells and Bell) are good sources of polyphenolic antioxidants.

Recently there have been increased reported cases of cancer (those of colon) and, artherosclerosis or plaque in the arteries (reduction of coronary perfusion caused by the narrowing of the arteries by artheromatous plaque). The two diseases are chronic and usually diet-dependent. In most cases, the reported disease carries with it the assumption that the patient has had a diet rich in protein (meat products) and not rich in green and leafy vegetables, which in most instances are rich sources of antioxidants (polyphenols).

That is why it is important that anti-oxidant requirements be met on a daily basis to slow this cumulative damage that builds up over the course of a lifetime. Anti-oxidants act as long-term preventive agents. They cannot reverse damage, but they can retard its progress.

VEG FOOD FACTS: Recent research has come with these amazing findings based on laboratory tests.





CHILLIESCapsaicin is found in chilies is used in creams to relieve pain from arthritis and diabetes nerve damage. As an anti-oxidant, may defuse carcinogens and impede the growth of cancer cells. Chilies stimulate digestive juices, which may shield the stomach lining from damage by acids.

GARLICGarlic may protect the heart by lowering Cholesterol, easing BP and preventing blood clots. There is growing evidence that its pungent sulphur compounds may stop cancer in its tracks.

CABBAGECabbage is loaded with tumor fighting compounds, like Sulforaphane, which increases the production of enzymes to get rid the body of carcinogens. Another compound Indole-3-carbinol slows abnormal growth of breast cells, a stage in the initiation of cancer.


Source: Good medicine, June 2002

Ed Catherine Marshall.


Aruna Chand Lata, Post Graduate Student

The National Trust of Fiji organized an iguana seminar on the 19th of November 2002. The guest speakers included Mr. Robin Yarrow (National Trust Councilor), Dr. Peter Harlow (Manager Reptilian Section Taronga Zoo), Mr. Philip Felstead (Director Kula Park, Sigatoka) and Dr. David Olson (Program Director Wildlife Conservation South Pacific Program).

The seminar looked at the conservation status of Fijian Dry Forest and Fijian Crested Iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) on Yadua Taba Island and existing Iguana Captive Breeding Programs.

According to the preliminary report on the results of the BP Conservation Programme 2000 project carried out by Dr. Peter Harlow and 7-member team, of the seventeen islands in the Yasawa and Mamanuca island groups in Fiji, a total of one dead and six live iguanas were found on only four of the islands. There are about 200 iguanas per hectare in the beach forest habitat of Yadua Taba.

Yadua Taba Island conserves some of the best remaining examples of the dry and littoral (beach) forest ecosystems according to Dr. David Olson. The reason why it is an Iguana Sanctuary is because of its unique flora and fauna composition and also due to the absence of goats, mongoose, feral cats, feral dogs, cane toads, ship rats, black rats, Wasmannia ants and diseases. That is the reason why the iguanas are not competent and need to be kept in controlled environments when taken out of the island.

Mr. Philip Felstead showed photographs of successful captively bred iguanas from Kula Eco Park and stressed that captively bred and confiscated iguanas are not to be returned to the island as they may carry diseases for which the native crested iguanas are not immune to.

All the speakers stressed the need to set up other Iguana Sanctuaries apart from Yadua Taba Island because of the dangers of catastrophic disturbances like fire, cyclones, drought and long-term poaching which would wipe out the whole Crested Iguana population from the island.

Detailed information on the Conservation Status of Fijian Dry Forest and Fijian Crested Iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) on Yadua Taba Island may be obtained from the report ‘A Status Assessment, Recommendations for Conservation Action and Provisional Vascular Plant and Ant List from a Field Survey, May 23-25, 2002’, submitted to The National Trust of Fiji on July 17, by Dr. David Olson and his seven-member team.

The seminar concluded with the appearance of an adult male Brachylophus vitiensis from Kula Eco Park!


Complied by Reema Prakash, Biology Dept

Did you know that…

Every minute 30,000 dead cells fall off the outer layer of the skin, making about 90% of the household dust.

The skin, the largest organ of the body, weighs 4.9 kilograms in total in a fully-grown adult.

The outer layer of the skin may hold 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels and more than 1000 nerve endings.

Ten thousand of the brain’s one trillion brain cells naturally die in the course of 24 hours.


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Page last updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Division of Biology
School of Biological, Chemical and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science and Technology
Private Bag, Laucala Campus,
Suva, Fiji.
Tel: (+679) 323 2415
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