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Elephantiasis

  • Posted on- Mar 03, 2017
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Elephantiasis is the general term used for the disease which causes extreme swelling in the arms and legs. The tissues of the Lymph system become thick and inflamed. This disease also goes by the name Lymphatic Filariasis or Elephantitis. There is also another type Elephantiasis, known as Non-Filarial Elephantitis. This disease almost affects the people of all age groups and is common in tropical regions of India. This disease is caused by different types of worms which get transmitted into the human body.

Causes of Elephantiasis

  • The Elephantiasis Syndrome is caused by an infection of a nematode parasite called the filarial worm. The parasite gets transmitted into the human body by female mosquitoes, parasite then grows into an adult worm leading to Elephantiasis.
  • Wuchereria bancrofti, Burgia malayi, symbiotic walbachia bacteria and burgia timori are the parasites which get transmitted through mosquito in lymph system causing Elephantiasis. These parasites feed on human blood.
  • This disease may also be caused due to accumulation of fluids in the body, causing swelling in the body parts. This condition is known as Edema.


Symptoms

In most of the cases, there are no symptoms of this infection. Larva of the worm, reproduce and spread into bloodstream, where it can live for years. The major symptom of Elephantiasis is excessive swelling in a body part due to the amassing of fluid. Some common symptoms of acute and chronic infection are:


Treatment

  • The treatment of elephantiasis includes medication and surgery. However, no vaccine has been developed to treat this disease.
  • The Diethylcarbamazine otherwise known as DEC is the main medication used to treat this drug. This medicine kills the small as well as adult worms present in the lymph system. But this medicine is not a permanent cure for this disease as filaries grow again after some time.
  • However, this medicine is only effective in the initial stages of infection, lymphatic surgery can also be done on the recommendation of a doctor.

Preventing Elephantiasis

These are some of the preventive measures that can be taken to protect you from transmission of parasite infection.
  • Regularly wash your hand with soap and water.
  • Apply mosquito repellent.
  • Apply antibacterial and anti-fungal cream on the wound.
  • Maintain proper hygiene conditions around you.
  • Workout to make your lymphatic system strong.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables before consuming.

Complications of Elephantiasis

If Elephantiasis is not treated early, it can lead to dangerous complications later on. Elephantiasis gets transmitted to other parts of the body, resulting in unbearable pain.
Long term Elephantiasis causes the growth of tumour, impotency, and failure of the kidneys.

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