Elephantiasis – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. Additionally, elephantiasis , or filariasis, is a parasitic disease that affects the lymphatic circulation . This infection known as elephantiasis is caused by a nematode that promotes an inflammatory reaction in the lymphatic vessels , causing a functional obstruction and causing the affected leg, for example, to become very dilated, resembling an elephant’s foot. by the nematode parasites Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori, commonly called filaria, which lodge in the lymphatic vessels causing lymphedema.
This disease is also known as elephantiasis , due to the elephant-legged appearance of the patient with this disease. Its transmitter mosquitoes of the Culex, Anopheles, Mansonia or Aedes genera, present in tropical and subtropical regions.
When the nematode obstructs the lymphatic vessel, the edema is irreversible, hence the importance of prevention with mosquito nets and repellents, in addition to avoiding the accumulation of stagnant water in old tires, cans, pots and others.
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The adult forms are round-section nematode worms with a complete digestive tract. Females (a few centimeters) are larger than males and reproduction is exclusively sexual, with generation of microfilariae . These are tiny spindle-shaped larvae measuring just 0.2 millimeters. So, check out Elephantiasis – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.
Elephantiasis Symptoms : Elephantiasis symptoms are:
- high fever ;
- headache ;
- muscle pain;
- light intolerance;
- allergic reactions
- asthma ;
- body itching ;
- lymphedema of the arms, legs, breasts , or scrotum
These symptoms of elephantiasis can appear from 1 month to 10 years after the insect bite.
Causes of Elephantiasis: Extreme enlargement of the limbs and other areas of the body characterized by elephantiasis , is the result of obstruction of lymph flow and possibly blood circulation . Lymphatic blockage may be due to recurrent attacks of a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the lymph vessels (streptococcal lymphangitis).
When the lymphatic obstruction is large enough, the pressure returns to the lymphatic channels and produces dilation of the superficial vessels, resulting in extreme swelling. Without medical intervention, the cycle continues until the affected area is grotesquely enlarged. Death of surrounding tissues can also occur from an obstructed blood supply (gangrene).
Recent studies have shown that a possible cause of elephantiasis in Africa may be related to the red earth in which certain populations live barefoot. It is believed that tiny chemical particles found in the soil can enter the skin through bare feet. These particles then penetrate the lymphatic tissues and produce irritating effects. Traumatized tissue is then vulnerable to streptococcal infection.
Treatment of Elephantiasis: Diagnosis of elephantiasis is by microscopic observation of microfilariae in blood samples. If the species presents nocturnal frequency, it is necessary to collect blood at night, otherwise they will not be found. The ultrasound allows detecting the adult forms. ELISA serology is also useful.
Elephantiasis is treated with medication, such as Diethylcarbamazine or Albendazole , and sometimes surgery is required to correct the lymphatic system . Antiparasitics such as mebendazole are used. It is important to treat secondary infections.
Elephantiasis Prevention: There is a WHO program that seeks to eliminate the disease with drugs administered as prevention and insecticides. It is helpful to wear clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible, insect repellents, and sleep protected with hammocks.
The prevention of elephantiasis is done with the use of mosquito nets to sleep; screens on windows and doors; avoid leaving standing water in tires; bottles and potted plants, for example; use repellent daily; avoid places with flies and mosquitoes, and it is up to the government to use means to combat flies and mosquitoes, such as spraying poisons through the air, such as smoking and basic sanitation measures.