Elephantiasis - How Lymphatic Filariasis Is Spread, Symptoms And Progression Of Filarial Disease, Diagnosis, Treatment - Prevention
Elephantiasis is an extreme symptom of human infection by a type of roundworm or nematode. It involves massive swelling of a limb or of the scrotum. The leg of an individual suffering from elephantiasis can become enlarged to two or three times normal diameter.
The actual name of the disease or infection which causes elephantiasis is lymphatic filariasis. Lymphatic filariasis is an important parasitic infection (a parasite is any organism which survives by living within another organism) in Africa, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Asia, and causes infection in about 250 million individuals (more than the number suffering from malaria). At one time, there was a small focus of infection that occurred in South Carolina, but this ended in the 1920s.
Prevention of lymphatic filariasis is very difficult, if not impossible, for people living in the areas where the causative nematodes are commonly found. Travelers to such areas can minimize exposure to the mosquito vectors through use of insect repellant and mosquito netting. Work is being done to determine whether DEC has any use as a preventive measure against the establishment of lymphatic filariasis.
See also Roundworms.
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