The 3 Main Types of Elephantiasis

The 3 Major Types of Elephantiasis are important because knowing The 3 Major Types of Elephantiasis treatment is improved. In addition, Elephantiasis ,  also known as filariasis, causes increases and deformities in the human body  , with thickening of the skin , particularly in the lower limbs, showing much resemblance to the foot of an elephant. Elephantiasis  is a term applied to infections in humans and animals by certain nematodes (round- bodied worms  ) belonging to the superfamily Filarioidea.

There are 8 filariae that infect humans. Many vectors (also called intermediate hosts) are involved in the transmission of Elephantiasis  to humans (also called definitive hosts) and among them are Aedes, Anopheles, Culex and Mansonia. By definition, Elephantiasis  is an infection transmitted by mosquitoes and exists today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 83 countries with tropical and sub-tropical climate. About 120 million individuals have the infection.

Infection is most often detected by the presence of microfilaria through a blood test  obtained from capillary blood (usually taken from the fourth finger of the hand). These little worms can only be seen under a microscope. It can occur in individuals of all ages, but the prevalence of infection is higher among males and in the population aged 20 to 40 years.

The infection occurs especially in individuals of low socioeconomic level, and the fact that it has focal distributions is well known, predominating in areas of greater poverty and inadequate urbanization, and the number of infected people can vary greatly within the same municipality and even within a single municipality. same neighborhood.

Main Types of Elephantiasis:  There are nine known filarial nematodes, which use humans as definitive hosts. They are divided into three groups according to the niche they occupy within the body :

  •  lymphatic elephantiasis
  •  subcutaneous elephantiasis
  • Serous  cavity elephantiasis.

Elephantiasis  is caused by the worms Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori These filariae occupy the lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes, causing lymphedema and, in chronic cases, leading to the disease known as elephantiasis.

Subcutaneous elephantiasis  is caused by loa loa (the “eye larva”), Mansonella streptocerca, Onchocerca volvulus and Dracunculus medinensis (the “Guinea worm”). These worms occupy the subcutaneous layer of fat .

Serous cavity elephantiasis is caused by the  worms Mansonella perstans and Mansonella ozzardi, which occupy the serous cavity of the abdomen. In all cases, the transmission vectors are blood -sucking insects (flies or mosquitoes), or copepod crustaceans in the case of Dracunculus medinensis.

Causes of Elephantiasis:  Elephantiasis is caused by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that causes dengue; Anapholes or Mansonia, at night or blowfly.

Symptoms of Elephantiasis:  In the acute phase, inflammatory phenomena may appear, including inflammation of the lymphatic vessels and lymphadenitis, in addition to general symptoms such as fever , headache  , malaise, among others. Later, for a period that can take months or years, patients may experience swelling  of the limbs and/or breasts in the case of women , and swelling  from fluid retention in the testicles in the case of men. Infectious skin  diseases are frequent and the presence of fat in urine are other possible manifestations. There may also be progression to severe and disabling forms of elephantiasis (excessive enlargement of limbs).

Diagnosis of Elephantiasis:  As a diagnostic routine, the investigation of microfilaria in the circulating blood is carried out (thick smear method). In specific cases, ascitic fluid (fluid in the abdomen), pleural, synovial, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF or cerebrospinal fluid), urine, and lymph nodes may be investigated. Out of routine, it may be chest search of the adult worm in the lymphatic system, genitals or other lesions. To search for circulating antigens, ELISA or immunochromatographic tests can be performed. Ultrasound of the scrotum may be indicated for men and ultrasound  of the breast or inguinal and axillary region for women.

Elephantiasis Prevention:  Elephantiasis prevention 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.

Treatments for Elephantiasis:  Individuals are treated through hygienic-dietary guidelines and anti-parasitic drugs, such as diethylcarbamazine. In specific cases where drug treatment is not effective, a reconstructive surgical intervention is necessary.

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