Elephantiasis: I did my report on filariasis, which is more commonly known as elephantiasis.
Elephantiasis is the late phase of filariasis. Filariasis is a tropical, mosquito-borne, parasitic disease that causes obstruction of the lymph vessels. In some people, the presence of the worm causes a tissue reaction that blocks the lymph flow. This blockage produces lymphedema, which is swelling and can eventually lead to a tremendous enlargement of an extremity or organ.
When elephantiasis follows repeated infection, parts of the body, particularly the legs, become grossly enlarged and the surrounding skin hardens and ulcerates. Certain types of elephantiasis can be treated surgically. Elephantiasis of the legs is usually treated with elastic bandages and frequent elevation of the legs. The leg and foot may swell to an elephantine size.
There may be allergic reactions such as itching and localized swelling. The body may also react by causing calcium tissue to be deposited around the worm, walling it off, and eventually causing its death. In humans, the mature worm lives tightly coiled in the lymphatic vessels where it reproduces. The female holds the fertilized eggs in her body.
Later, the embryos, called microfilariae, are discharged alive. An interesting feature of these worms is the periodic swarming of the microfilariae in the bloodstream. Swarming takes place at night in most species. The embryos can only be taken up by an insect when they are in a human’s bloodstream.
They develop into infective larvae in the insect, which is the intermediate host. These hosts are various genera of mosquitoes, notably Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex. Within 10 to 11 days after ingestion by a human, they migrate to the lymphatic vessels where they mature and reproduce. There isn’t really any prevention for this disease.
Bibliography: Drimmer, Frederick. The Elephant Man. Putnam Publishers, New York, 1985. Elephantiasis.” Fishbein’s Illustrated Medical and Health Encyclopedia. H.S. Stuttman Inc. Publishers, Westport, CT.
1983 ed., vol. 2, pp. 527 Filariasis”, Collier’s Encyclopedia, Macmillan Educational Company, New York, Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Maxwell Macmillan International Publishing Group, New York, Oxford, Sydney, 1991 ed.
Col. 9, pp. 698-699.