What is filariasis? – Causes, symptoms, diagnosis,

What is filariasis?

Filariasis is the largest cause of disability and disfigurement worldwide (it is also seen as an infection). This is a parasitic disease caused by the entry of thread-like nematode worms into the body. Nematode worms can enter the human body through parasitic mosquito species (Wuchereria Bancrofti or Rugia Malayi) and blood-sucking insects. These nematode worms include Filariae-Wuchereria Bancrofti, Brugia Malayi and Brugia Timori.

Filariasis is prevalent around the world, mainly in poor people and tropical areas. Filariasis is known as elephantiasis and slippad. In India, it is commonly known as elephant foot, because in this disease the foot of the person becomes like the foot of an elephant. The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, provides free treatment for those fighting the disease. In India alone, crores of people are at risk of getting filariasis.

How many types of filariasis are there?

There are three types of filariasis disease,

  1. lymphatic filariasis
  2. subcutaneous filariasis
  3. serous cavity filariasis

Note: – Subcutaneous Filariasis and Serous Cavity Filariasis are the rarest types of filariasis disease. At present there is no specific information available about both of them, research on both of them is ongoing. Lymphatic Filariasis is the most common filariasis and there is a lot of information about it.

What are the causes of filariasis?

At the beginning of this article we told you that filariasis is caused by nematode parasites. Nematode parasites enter a person’s body with the help of mosquitoes and other blood-sucking creatures or insects and then cause filariasis. These nematode parasites include the following worms which cause filariasis:-

  • Bancrofti (Wuchereria Bancrofti)
  • Brugia Malayi
  • Brugia Timori
  • Mansonella
  • Onchocerca Volvulus

What are the symptoms of filariasis?

In case of elephantiasis i.e. filariasis or elephantiasis, many types of symptoms can be seen which can change with each type of this disease, but generally the following types of symptoms are seen only.The most common symptom of filariasis is swelling in body parts. Inflammation occurs in:

  • Feet
  • genitals
  • breasts
  • arm

Swelling occurs most in the feet. Swelling in the legs can occur due to many other reasons, but in case of filariasis, swelling occurs in only one leg. Even if there is swelling in the other leg, it is very minimal. Any clogged eye in the body continues to grow and may also cause pain in the swollen area.

In case of filariasis, apart from swelling, the following skin related symptoms are also seen: –

  • dry skin
  • thickening of the skin
  • blistered skin appearance
  • skin color darker than normal
  • skin appearance

What are the risk factors for filariasis?

 Filariasis can affect people of any age. It is visible in both women and men. It is more common in tropical and subtropical parts of the world, such as:

  • Africa
  • India
  • Southeast Asia
  • South America

Common risk factors for filariasis include the following:

  • being at high risk for mosquitoes
  • living in unsanitary conditions
  • Long-term stay in tropical and subtropical area

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