Elephantiasis refers to a parasitic infection that causes extreme swelling in the arms and legs. The disease is caused by the filarial worm, which is transmitted from human to human via the female mosquito when it takes a blood meal. Elephantiasis is a syndrome caused by infection with a nematode parasite called the filarial worm.
The parasite grows into an adult worm that lives in the lymphatic system of humans. It is transmitted by female mosquitoes.
When an infected female mosquito bites a person, she may inject the worm larvae into the bloodstream. The
worm larvae reproduce and spread throughout the bloodstream, where they can live for many years.
Elephantiasis is caused by several different types of parasitic worms, including Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and B. timori.
Causes of Elephantiasis
Nematode parasites that causes lymphatic filariasis includes Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori. The larvae (microfilariae) of the parasite are taken up by the mosquito when it feeds. When the larvae reach the third stage of development, they are introduced to a new host, who then develops the infection.
Symptoms/Signs of Elephantiasis
In many cases, symptoms of elephantiasis do not appear until years after infection. As the parasites accumulate in the blood vessels, they can restrict circulation and cause fluid to build up in surrounding tissues. The symptoms may include:
- Blocked lymph ducts
- Brawny skin color
- Enlarged groin lymph nodes
- Fibrotic skin tissue
- Impaired lymphatic drainage
- Massive leg swelling
- Pain in testicles
- Pain above testicles
- Pebbly skin appearance
- Severe swelling
- Skin ulceration
- Thickened skin tissue
- Verrucous skin appearance
strong>How to diagnose Elephantiasis
Microfilariae sometimes can be seen in blood under a microscope. Often the doctor diagnoses the disorder based on the symptoms and a medical history, after ruling out other disorders with similar symptoms.
Elephantiasis Home Remedies/Home Cure
- Carefully wash the swollen area with soap and water every day
- Disinfect wounds if any using antibacterial and antifungal creams
- Elevate and exercise the swollen arm or leg to improve the lymph flow
- Maintain proper hygienic conditions
- Use insect repellants and mosquito nets
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