Wouldn’t have heard a story about Elephantiasis it’s

Wouldn’t it be fun to get Elephantiasis? This is a story but Oumar about how he has struggled with Elephantiasis from The END Fund. ¨We met Oumar in Mali at an END Fund-supported program to help patients with elephantiasis, an advanced stage of the parasitic disease lymphatic filariasis.

The program helped patients learn to manage the severe swelling in their limbs, care for open sores, and reduce their painful symptoms. Oumar started suffering from elephantiasis as a young boy. His appearance made him the object of ridicule among the local children and prevented him from attending school. Even though all his other siblings attended school, his family realized he could bring in money by begging during the day. The children in his village teased him, calling him “Bigfoot” and “Boy Who Can’t Run”. Watching other boys play soccer in his village, he dreamed of one day joining them. He also dreamed of attending school. When asked what he would do first if he had normal legs and feet, he said, “I would run straight to school like the other kids¨ (“TEF”).

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Now that you have heard a story about Elephantiasis it’s time to learn about it.The origin of elephantiasis is; South America, Central Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean, are the most common places that you might bitten by a mosquito. (Zazula). Elephantiasis is usually obtained during childhood which would result in the hidden damage of the lymphatic system. Elephantiasis is because an infection with parasites classified as nematodes (roundworms) of the family. There are 3 types of these thread-like filarial worms; Wuchereria Bancrofti, Brugia Malayi, and Brugia Timori. The most commonly responsible roundworm is the Wuchereria Bancrofti which is 90% of the cases.

Adult worms lodge the lymphatic vessels and obstruct the regular function of the lymphatic system. The worms can live for an average of 6–8 years and produce millions of immature larvae that flow in the blood (“WHO”). The symptoms of Elephantiasis  involves asymptomatic (the person producing or showing no symptoms), acute, and chronic conditions. Asymptomatic infections may cause damage to the lymphatic system and kidneys, and change the body’s immune system.

When lymphatic filariasis develops into chronic conditions it leads to lymphoedema which is tissue swelling blockage of the lymphatic vessels which results to fluid retention and hydrocele (scrotal swelling). Such body malformations normally result in social stigma (disapproval of a person based on social characteristic grounds)  and sub-optimal mental health. Also loss of income-earning possibilities and increased medical expenses for the person paying.  The socioeconomic weight of isolation and poverty are monumental.

Severe episodes of local inflammation involving skin occur. Some of these occurrences are caused by the body’s immune response to fight off a parasite. Most are the outcomes of secondary bacterial skin infection where standard defences have been lost due to the damage of the lymphatic system.. These acute attacks are weakening, may last for weeks and are the main cause of lost wages for people suffering with Elephantiasis (“WHO”). The majority of the suffering is because filarial nematodes cause blockage in the Lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is made up of a systems of vessels that drain tissue fluid from all the major organs in the body, including skin and from all four limbs (“Elephantiasis”).The skin may become thickened and rough. Sometimes  the host will experience symptoms like fever, headache, and fatigue. These symptoms may last up to seven to ten days, and may reappear as often as ten times in a year (“Elephantiasis”).

Treatments for elephantiasis is a drug called diethylcarbamazine (DEC) is quite successful at eliminating the microfilariae as they course in the blood, and injuring or killing some of the adult worms within the lymphatic vessels. Someone that has elephantiasis may require several treatments of DEC. Adult worms that are still living in the body that survived the DEC treatment may go on and produce more microfilariae offsprings.When most of the nematodes die, they give off certain chemicals that may cause an allergic-type reaction in the host. Which will result in many individuals also needing treatment with potent anti-allergy medications for instance steroids and antihistamines.

Tissue damage caused by elephantiasis is changless, but the maximal swelling can be considerably reduced with surgery or the application of elastic bandages or stockings (“Elephantiasis”). Studies show that one dose of diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) has the same long-term (1 year) effect of  decreasing levels of microfilaraemia as the recommended 12-day regimen of DEC (¨WHO¨). Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is a disregarded tropical disease. Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes (“WHO”). Mosquitoes are infected when ingesting blood and biting an infected host.

 Once in the mosquitoes microfilariae with in the mosquitoes body will  turn into infected larvae. Then when the infected mosquito goes to bites someone they will deposit the parasitic larvae onto the skin. Once on the skin it can enter the body. Then the larvae goes to the lymphatic vessels and develop into adult worms (“WHO”). Mosquitoes are infected when ingesting blood and biting an infected host.  Once in the mosquitoes microfilariae with in the mosquitoes body will  turn into infected larvae.

Then when the infected mosquito goes to bites someone they will deposit the parasitic larvae onto the skin. Once on the skin it can enter the body. Then the larvae goes to the lymphatic vessels and develop into adult worms (“WHO”). Elephantiasis is caused by infestation by one of three nematodes (Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, or Brugia timori).

This is spread through humans by mosquitoes.The mosquitoes are considered vectors which means that mosquitoes are not harmed by the disease. Although humans are the ones being affected which means they are hosts. Adult worms maintaining in the human body generate live offsprings (microfilariae).

Which find their way into the bloodstream during the night. This is called nocturnal periodicity. Which means that if you are a host for elephantiasis then you were most likely out at night and got bitten by a mosquito (“Elephantiasis”). Now that you have learned so many great things about Elephantiasis don’t you  just want to have it? Probably not, here are some ways to prevent the disease from spreading. Prevention of lymphatic filariasis is almost close to impossible for people living in affected areas.

When traveling to areas where elephantiasis is commonly know you should use insect spray and mosquito nets (“Elephantiasis”).World Health Organization has 2 ideas on how to stop the spread of elephantiasis by claiming, ¨stopping the spread of infection through large-scale annual treatment of all eligible people in an area or region where infection is present.”` WHO? second idea is ¨by alleviating the suffering caused by lymphatic filariasis through increased morbidity management and disability prevention activities¨ (“WHO”). In conclusion, Elephantiasis is also called Lymphatic Filariasis and is commonly found in; South America, Central Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean (Zazula).

 Elephantiasis is because an infection with parasites classified as nematodes (roundworms) of the family. It can cause tissue swelling blockage of the lymphatic vessels which results to fluid retention and hydrocele (scrotal swelling). Studies show that one dose of diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) has the same long-term (1 year) effect of  decreasing levels of microfilaraemia as the recommended 12-day regimen of DEC (¨WHO¨).  This is spread through humans by mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes are considered vectors which means that mosquitoes are not harmed by the disease. Although humans are the ones being affected which means they are hosts. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for people living in the areas where nematodes are commonly found for people to not get elephantiasis (“Elephantiasis”).

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