Did you know that there is a parasitic disease that affects millions of people in developing countries worldwide? It’s called filariasis, and it’s spread through mosquito bites. Sometimes, infected people show no symptoms, but in other cases, they may experience inflammation, swelling, fever, or even lymphedema or hydrocele. However, there are ways to prevent this disease, like avoiding mosquito bites if you live or travel to tropical climates. Knowing the early symptoms and the best treatment options can also help reduce the debilitating effects of filariasis.
What is Filariasis?
Filariasis is a frightening infectious disease that can cause inflammation, fever, and serious health complications. In severe cases, it can even cause disfigurement, causing skin thickening and swelling in the calves, often referred to as elephantiasis. This disease is caused by tiny parasitic worms that infiltrate your lymphatic system and wreak havoc on your body’s ability to balance fluid levels and protect against infections. Medically it is known as lymphatic filariasis. It’s important to seek treatment for filariasis to prevent potential complications from this serious disease.
Who is at risk of contracting filariasis?
Filariasis is found mostly in tropical climates. Especially in Asian, African, and South American countries. However, you’ll unlikely contract filariasis during a short visit to these areas. But, if you are planning on an extended stay for work or travel, make sure to protect yourself against this potentially serious illness.
Causes of Lymphatic Filariasis:
- Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasitic disease that spreads through mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites someone with the disease, it becomes infected with microscopic worms. Then it circulates in the person’s blood. Then, when that mosquito bites someone else, those worms pass through the skin and into the person’s lymph vessels, where they grow into adult worms that can live for up to 7 years. These adult worms mate and release millions of microscopic worms into the person’s blood, allowing them to infect others through more mosquito bites. It’s a complex and fascinating process for those contracting the disease. So it is important to take precautions against mosquito bites in areas where lymphatic Filariasis is present to prevent the spread of the disease.
- Filariasis is a disease caused by worms and is spread by mosquitoes. But the tricky part is that those mosquitoes only bite between dusk and dawn, making it especially hard to avoid.
- Factors like urbanization, poor sanitation, and the migration of people contribute to the spread of this disease.
- Interestingly, men are more susceptible to the disease than women, which could be due to spending more time outdoors and having more exposed skin.
Symptoms of lymphatic filariasis parasites in humans –
- When people contract lymphatic filariasis, they may not even realize it at first. That means it will not show any parasitic infection symptoms.
- However, a whole host of parasitic infection symptoms can arise in the acute stage of the disease. These can include fever, inflammation of the lymph vessels, and swelling of the lymph nodes. The arms, legs, and even breasts can become significantly swollen, and men may experience a painful condition called hydrocele, which causes the scrotum to enlarge and become uncomfortable. Underwear is often out of the question due to the increased pressure it puts on the affected area.
- Lymphatic filariasis can lead to serious symptoms, especially in the chronic stage. One major sign is the dreaded elephantiasis, where your limbs become massively swollen and uncomfortable. Elephantiasis is caused by parasites also.
- Another clue that you might have this disease is if you notice lymph (a clear fluid that helps fight infection) in your urine, a condition called chyluria.
- Those with lymphatic filariasis also have a weakened immune system. That makes the infected person more susceptible to skin infections and other bacterial illnesses.
- An allergic reaction to the skin parasites can sometimes lead to tropical pulmonary eosinophilia, a serious illness that can cause respiratory problems.
Filariasis: how is it diagnosed?
If you suspect you have lymphatic filariasis, a blood sample will be required by healthcare providers to diagnose it. There are a couple of approaches that they may take, such as:
By examining your blood sample under a microscope, providers can determine if it contains any filarial worms. Interestingly, these worms are known as nocturnally periodic. That means they only travel through your blood at nighttime. You might have to get your blood drawn in the evening, depending on when they are most active.
To detect antibodies in your blood that develop in response to an infection, providers may test your blood sample. Lucky for you, this test can be done during the day.
Prevention of Lymphatic Filariasis –
Lymphatic Filariasis is a disease spread by mosquitoes that can cause swelling and damage to the lymph system. In order to prevent filariasis, you should avoid mosquito bites as much as possible. Mosquitos also cause malaria.
- First, make sure to close all windows before dusk and avoid opening them until after dawn to keep those pesky mosquitoes out of your home.
- You can also use mosquito nets while sleeping or apply mosquito repellent cream to exposed areas of the skin.
- Keep your surroundings free of stagnant water, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos.
- Cover up with long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks in affected areas.
The Best Treatment for Filariasis:
If you’re dealing with filariasis, your treatment plan will vary depending on your severe symptoms. There are a few options available to you that may help ease the effects of this parasitic disease.
One is taking medication, such as ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, or albendazole. These medicines can destroy the adult worms in your blood or prevent them from reproducing. These medicines can also stop the spread of infection to others. You’ll need to take them once a year for a few weeks, as the worms may still live in your body.
Surgery is another option, particularly if you have dead worms in your bloodstream. If the filariasis has caused hydrocele, you may also require surgery to relieve fluid buildup in your scrotum. You can manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life with the right treatment.
Dealing with Elephantiasis:
Besides medical treatments, your healthcare professional might suggest some tactics to keep the swelling under control, like using compression garments or elevating the affected area.
Side effects of this treatment:
Taking filariasis medications can have serious side effects that require close supervision from a healthcare provider. These powerful anti-parasitic drugs may cause symptoms like dizziness, fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and nausea.
From KBK Multispecialty Hospital –
Filariasis is a disease that is caused by a skin parasite infection. It can have long-term effects on people’s lives if not addressed on time. Therefore, it is important to know the available treatments to ensure individuals receive the care they need to prevent Filariasis. Pain-free therapy is the best treatment option and the way to treat this ailment. If you are suffering from Filariasis or feel symptoms, consulting with doctors at KBK Multispeciality Hospital can help give you peace of mind. Their team provides several therapeutic options that may effectively reduce pain caused by Filariasis while simultaneously targeting the root cause to provide symptomatic relief. Don’tDon’t let Filariasis stop you from living your life. Book an appointment today for professional diagnosis & treatment options that could lead you back to normal life!
What does filariasis look like?
Filariasis shows few common signs to look out for. These may include swelling in the arms, legs, or genital area and fever or chills. Sometimes, the skin may become thickened, with visible lumps or bumps.
Filariasis and elephantiasis difference?
Filariasis is a parasitic infection caused by microscopic thread-like worms transmitted through mosquito bites. Elephantiasis is when the affected body parts become swollen and enlarged due to a lymphatic system blockage caused by filariasis. While filariasis is a preventable disease, it can lead to elephantiasis if left untreated.
Can filariasis be cured?
There’s no miracle cure for Filariasis, but there are effective treatments to help manage the symptoms of this parasitic disease. Medications exist to kill off the worms responsible for the infection and prevent you from passing them on to others. So if you suspect you may have Filariasis, seek medical attention to begin managing the condition and taking back control of your health.
What is the main cause of filariasis?
A parasitic worm known as Wuchereria bancrofti is the main cause of filariasis. These worms are spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes, which means the disease tends to be most common in areas with high mosquito populations.
Can filariasis cause death?
Filariasis may not directly cause death. It can lead to serious complications such as lymphedema, swelling, and recurrent infections. Those who suffer from advanced stages of the disease may find it difficult to move, work, or engage in everyday activities. Secondary infections may also arise in some cases, leading to severe health implications.