Elephantiasis is a tropical parasitic disease that affects the lymph nodes and lymph vessels thereby causing extreme swelling in the arms and legs. It is also called lymphatic filariasis. It increases the risk of frequent bacterial infections that harden and thicken the skin of the affected area.
The disease is caused by the filarial worm, which is transmitted from human to human via the female mosquito when it takes a blood meal. Their bites deposit a parasite that travels to the lymph system. The parasite grows into an adult worm that lives in the lymphatic system of humans.
Most infected persons will not show any symptom at the early stage.
Later it may cause swelling of the limbs, breasts, or genitals.
The most common symptom is the swelling of the legs.
The medications mostly used, do not kill the adult worms but prevent further spread of the disease until the worms die on their own. Surgical methods to treat elephantiasis are currently being researched. However, elephantiasis is generally managed instead of treated. Management of elephantiasis includes wrapping of the infected limbs to prevent further swelling, and daily washing of the limb to prevent bacterial or fungal infection.
The main strategy used globally to control lymphatic filariasis is the widespread distribution of the de-worming drugs Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole, which kill the worms found in the blood to prevent people transmitting the disease once infected. This strategy is known as Mass Drug Administration. Apr 24, 2015
What to Do?
Go for regular Medical Checks
Avoid self medications
Get rid of mosquitoes in your environment
Use insecticide treated net
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Picture Source: http://reiseklinikken.no/horror.asp