Filariasis is a category of disease that is caused by filarial parasites, which are parasitic infections. These infections are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, and once inside the body, they can cause a range of health problems.
The disfiguring symptoms of lymphatic filariasis have been recognized as a leading cause of disability globally by the World Health Organization (WHO).
One of the most common symptoms of filariasis is lymph node swelling, which occurs when the worms block the flow of lymph fluid in the body. This can lead to abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body (lymphedema), which can cause swelling in the arms, legs, and other areas of the body.
Asia, Africa and South America countries are at a higher risk of getting filariasis than others. In North America, the disorder is uncommon. The filariasis-causing worms do not live in the United States.
These microscopic worms can thrive in the lymphatic system for up to 7 years, causing damage.
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Symptoms of Filariasis
Some people with filariasis don’t have any symptoms. But some other people who are affected may see any of the following:
- Acute inflammation of lymphatic vessels or genitalia (lymphangitis)
- Abnormally enlarged lymphatic vessels (varices)
- Tissue swelling (lymphoedema)
- Shaking chills
- Body aches
- Sperm ducts (epididymitis)
- High white blood cells (eosinophilia)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Excessive fluid in the affected areas (edema)
- Swollen and painful scrotum
- Inflammation, pain, and swelling of the testes (orchitis),
- Sperm track (funiculitis)
- High temperatures
- Chronic lymph node swelling (lymphadenopathy)
Laboratory tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis of filariasis and identify the specific type of filarial worm responsible for the infection. These tests may include:
- Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to detect filarial worms or antibodies to filarial worms in the blood.
- Microscopic examination: A sample of blood or lymph fluid may be examined under a microscope to look for the presence of filarial worms or their larvae.
- Molecular tests: These tests can detect the genetic material of filarial worms in a sample of blood or lymph fluid using techniques such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction).
Filariasis Treatment in Nigeria
There are many ways to treat filariasis in Nigeria, but the most common ones are:
- Medication: You might try anti-parasitic medications like ivermectin, Moxidectin, Diethylcarbamazine (Hetrazan), Doxycycline (Doxy 100). These medications can eliminate the adult worms that are currently present in your blood or prevent them from multiplying. Taking these medications can also help prevent the virus from being passed on to another person. You should continue to take these medications once every year for a period of a few weeks at a time. This is because the worms may still be alive in your body.
- Surgical procedure: In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove severely damaged tissue or to drain fluid accumulation.
Is There Vaccine for Filariasis?
There is currently no vaccination available for filariasis. A number of the worms can be eradicated by medication, which will also prevent you from passing the infection on to another person.
Treatment can help lessen the severity of the symptoms of filariasis.
How to prevent filariasis
The best way to prevent filariasis is by following below instructions.
- Sleep under a mosquito net always.
- Sleep in an air-conditioned room.
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin, especially at night.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves.
These worms are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, and once inside the body, they can cause a range of health problems.
It is important to protect oneself from mosquito bites to prevent infection with filariasis. This can be achieved by using mosquito nets and repellents, wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants in areas where the disease is prevalent, and avoiding areas with high mosquito activity.