Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a painful and profoundly disfiguring disease. While the infection is usually acquired in childhood, its visible manifestations occur later in life, causing temporary or permanent disability. In endemic countries, lymphatic filariasis has a major social and economic impact.The disease is caused by three species of thread-like nematode worms, known as filariae – Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori
Most infected people are asymptomatic and will never develop clinical symptoms, despite the fact that the parasite damages the lymph system. A small percentage of persons will develop lymphedema. This is caused by improper functioning of the lymph system that results in fluid collection and swelling. This mostly affects the legs, but can also occur in the arms, breasts, and genitalia. Most people develop these clinical manifestations years after being infectedeople infected with adult worms can take a yearly dose of medicine, called diethylcarbamazine (DEC), that kills the microscopic worms circulating in the blood. While this drug does not kill all of the adult worms, it does prevent infected people from giving the disease to someone else.
• Carefully wash the swollen area with soap and water every day. • Elevate and exercise the swollen arm or leg to move the fluid and improve the lymph flow. • Disinfect any wounds. Use antibacterial or antifungal cream if necessary.
Globally, 1103 million people live in the countries where preventive treatment for lymphatic filariasis is required. WHO's African and South-East Asia regions harbour 94% of the population living in endemic areas, and 98% of the infected population. Of the total population requiring preventive chemotherapy for lymphatic filariasis, 632 million (57%) live in the South-East Asia Region (9 endemic countries) and 410 million (37%) live in the African Region (35 countries). The Region of the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean Region and Western Pacific Region (with 4, 3 and 22 endemic countries, respectively) together account for 6% of global distribution.