Filariasis is also called lymphatic filariasis, it is a parasitic disease that is caused by an infection of roundworms of the filariodea type. Lymphatic filariasis commonly known as elephantiasis impairs the lymphatic system causing pain, social stigma and severe disability as it can lead to abnormal enlargement of body parts. Filariasis also leads to permanent disability as the disease manifest painful and profoundly disfiguring your body. Filariasis patients do not only suffer physically but also mentally and financial losses contributing to poverty.
Causes of filariasis
Filariasis is caused by infections with parasites classified as nematodes of filariodideafamily. They are three types of filarial worms:
- Wuchereriabancrofti, it’s responsible for 90% of filariasis cases
- Brugiatimori, it also causes the disease
- Brugiamalayi, it causes most of the remaining cases of filariasis
Adults worms hos in lymphatic vessels and disrupt the function of the lymphatic system. The worms live for approximately 6 to 8 years and they produce millions of immature larvae during their lifetime that circulate in the blood. Mosquitoes are infected with these immature larvae by ingesting blood when biting an infected host. Infected mosquito’s bite people and deposits the mature parasites when they enter the body. The larvae migrate to the lymphatic vessels and develop into adult worms, continuing the cycle of transmission.
You may not know you have filariasis until you notice the swelling. The swollen area of the body parts begin to look lumpy and bulky. You may also have the following:
- Tough skin and just feeling bad all over.
They are medicines to treat filariasis. You may be given one called diethylcarbamazine(DEC) by your doctor, DEC us taken once per year and it kills the microscopic worms in your bloodstream. Filariasis is also treated by the combination of DEC with a medicine called ivermectin. The combination has shown long term results and is also taken once a year. You can also do some things on your home to ease filariasis such as:
- Use moisturizers
- Wash and dry the swollen areas daily
- Exercise and walk when possible
- Keep your arms or legs elevated when you’re lying down or seated.
Surgery is sometimes needed to relieve pressure in very swollen parts
The very best way to prevent filariasis is to avoid mosquito bites. Giving out medicines that kills the microscopic worm to entire communities is also a good measure as annual mass treatment reduces the microfilariae level in the blood.