Although not fatal, elephantiasis can severely disfigure its victim, resulting in profound social stigma. By distorting the limbs and other body parts, elephantiasis renders people too sick to work so that elephantiasis hinders economic productivity.
However, there is good news. It was recently estimated that 139 million people in Africa received elephantiasis treatments in 2013. This was made possible by the Mectizan Donation Programme along with the World Health Organisation and the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis.
For a long time, we thought that the worms themselves, and the microfilariae, caused these terrible responses to infection – that the battle between the human body and the worms caused blindness and disfigurement. But now it’s becoming clear that the real culprit is not the worms, but a type of bacteria living inside the worms. The problem is Wolbachia pipientis.
India was certified polio-free in 2014. Today, the country has its sights set on another public health victory: the elimination of lymphatic filariasis, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that threatens nearly half of its population. To meet this ambitious goal, the Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) has launched one of the largest public health campaigns in India’s history to provide more than 400 million people with free medication that could protect them from lymphatic filariasis.
John Umaru is a health worker in Jos, Nigeria with the Carter Center. He has started a support group for villagers who suffer from lymphatic filariasis, a disfiguring disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
The filariasis parasite is a roundworm called W. bancrofti. It's commonly carried by mosquitoes in the tropics. If kept in your system untreated it can cause massive swelling of the legs and feet, even elephantiasis.
It’s simple–in a way. We have to treat 1 billion people, giving them two different tablets, once a year for five years. I’ll spare you the science, but basically, if you treat everybody for five years, the disease actually disappears because the mosquitoes can’t pick it up any more, and you break the diseases’ transmission cycle. So while no one can cure LF, these tablets will prevent you from catching the disease, if you live in these endemic areas.
Despite its devastating effects, LF is one of only a few infectious diseases that have the potential to be completely eliminated. Knowing this, Reimer, a former Cargill executive, and a team of Cargill employees partnered with the Reverend Thomas Streit C.S.C., the founder of the University of Notre Dame Haiti Program, to work toward this goal.
The award today went to scientists who created a pill that prevents a disfiguring and painful tropical illness.
Like many neglected diseases, L.F. doesn’t kill its victims quickly. Instead, it hacks away at their quality of life. Every year, people lose 5.9 million years of good health to this disease.
Don’t go after the parasitic worms that cause the diseases; go after the bacteria that those worms depend on.
The mission of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis is to bring together a diverse group of public-private health partners to support the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by mobilising political, financial and technical resources to ensure success.
Lymphatic filariasis results from parasitic worms that are transmitted by the bites of mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Several species of mosquitoes can transmit the disease.
Lymphatic filariasis (referred to as LF and also known as elephantiasis) is a mosquito-borne disease that is caused by parasitic filarial nematodes. Though infection usually is acquired in childhood, the grotesquely disfiguring effects of LF is greatest in adults.
Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by thread-like worms called Wuchereria bancrofti. The parasite is carried from person to person by mosquitoes. 120 million people are infected in subtropical and tropical Asia (mostly in India), Africa, the Pacific and the Americas (mostly in Brazil, Haiti, Guyana and the Dominican Republic).
People with the disease can suffer from lymphedema and elephantiasis and in men, swelling of the scrotum, called hydrocele. Lymphatic filariasis is a leading cause of permanent disability worldwide. Communities frequently shun and reject women and men disfigured by the disease. Affected people frequently are unable to work because of their disability, and this harms their families and their communities.
Progressively increasing doses of any one of the major anti-parasiticide drugs is the treatment for the disorder. Among these drugs are: ivermectin, albendazole, and diethylcarbamazine. These drugs work to get rid of the larval worm, to inhiobit reproduction of the adult worm, or to kill the adult worm.
Filariasis is a group of diseases that affect humans and animals. The agent is a nematode parasite of the order Filariidae, commonly called filariae. They are usually classified according to the final habitat of the adult worms in the human host.
These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito and develop into adult worms in the lymphatic vessels, causing severe damage and swelling (lymphoedema). Elephantiasis – painful, disfiguring swelling of the legs and genital organs – is a classic sign of late-stage disease.