Elephantiasis also known as (filariasis) is a condition characterized by gross enlargement of an area of the body, especially the limbs, breasts, and scrotum as well as thickening and hardening of the skin.
The swelling is caused by obstruction of the lymphatic system, which results in the accumulation of a fluid called lymph in the affected areas.
Causes of Elephantiasis
Elephantiasis is caused by thread-like nematodes worms called Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, etc. There are Eight different thread-like nematodes worms that causes filariasis. They are classified depending on the area which the worms affect. These are-
Lymphatic filariasis (Elephantiasis) – which affects the lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes.
Subcutaneous filariasis- which affects the subcutaneous layer of the skin.
Serous cavity filariasis- which affects the serous cavity of the abdomen.
The gross swelling of the leg makes a person look noticeable and ugly. Hence, it is better to protect from the bites of filarial-spreading mosquitoes by using mosquito repellent creams, mats, coils, aerosols and prevent breeding of mosquitoes with better practice of hygiene and sanitation in endemic areas. The Culex, Aedes or Anopheles mosquitoes transmit the disease. Another parasite called Brugia malayi that causes filariasis is transmitted by the vector Mansonia and Anopheles mosquitoes.
Some three million people living in Kenya’s Coast Province are 'at risk A' category that includes those who may already have contracted the disease, whose symptoms can take decades to manifest themselves.
"In the larger Kilifi District alone, 460,000 cases have been reported over the years,” Filariasis can cause lasting damage to the lymphatic system. The disease causes no symptoms in the initial stage. Therefore, most people initially are not aware that they have filaria worms.
Early diagnoses is very important. It's advisable to go for a check up even if you have no symptoms especially if you live in coast county. Laboratory tests are available to diagnose the disease but you must visit the hospital at night Filariasis is usually diagnosed by direct demonstration of the parasite in the nocturnal blood sample or skin specimen.
Once diagnosed with filariasis, treatment is readily available in our clinic. Those with swellings can be operated successfully though the cost is very high. We do not carry out operations in our clinic.