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Elephantiasis

 

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Elephantiasis are worms that dwell in the tissue beneath the skin and in the lymphatic system. Filariasisis a very common condition amongst people of India living in the coastal regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Elephantiasis partially takes its name from "the Elephant Man", the carnival stage name of Joseph Merrick . The name refers to the resemblence of Merrick's limbs to the thick, baggy skin on the limbs and trunks of elephants. Careful hygiene and other measures that prevent and control subsequent bacterial and fungal infections in limbs or genitals in which the lymphatic system has been damaged can reduce disfigurement and suffering.

There are many types of filaria worms. The commonest is Wuchereria Bancrofti and Brugia Malayi. Humans are the only definite hosts for this parasite. The mosquito spreads this disease. Usually infection is established only with repeated and prolonged exposure to infective larvae. After being infected by a mosquito, the larvae travel to the lymphatic system where they develop into adult worms. The offspring are termed microfilariae. They circulate in the blood or migrate to the tissue beneath the skin.

The principal changes result from inflammatory damage to the lymphatic system, which is caused by adult worms. These worms live within the lymphatic system and the lymph nodes. They cause lymphatic dilatations and thickening of the walls. These regions are infiltrated by cellsof the body causing gross changes in the tissues leading to the tortuosity of the lymphatics and damage to the vessel valves. With obstruction to the flow of lymph there is nowa stasis and a hard brawny edema develops in the overlying skin. With the death of worms further inflammatory changes take place leading to further complications in the lymphatic function.

Elephantias is also called lymphatic filariasis. elephantiasis , abnormal enlargement of any part of the body due to obstruction of the lymphatic channels in the area (see lymphatic system ), usually affecting the arms, legs, or external genitals. Elephantiasis generally results from obstructions of the lymphatic vessels. It is most commonly caused by a parasitic disease known as lymphatic filariasis . This is the severely disfiguring and disabling condition of elephantiasis. Recovery from filariasis is possible and surgery sometimes helps, but any elephantiasis that develops during the disease cannot be cured. Ivermectin, an antifilarial drug, has been effective with a single dose. Nonfilarial elephantiasis is thought to be caused by persistent contact with volcanic ash. Elephantiasis partially takes its name from "the Elephant Man", the carnival stage name of Joseph Merrick. Albendazole, in combination with others drugs, is being used in a program of mass drug administration undertaken under the auspices of the World Health Organization in an attempt to eliminate filariasis.

Alternatively, elephantiasis may occur in the absence of parasitic infection. Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is best known from dramatic photos of people with grossly enlarged or swollen arms and legs. This nonparasitic form of elephantiasis, known as nonfilarial elephantiasis or podoconiosis, generally occurs in the mountains of central Africa. This blockage causes fluids to collect in the tissues, which can lead to great swelling, called "lymphedema." The adult worms live in the lymphatic system, causing local inflammation, fibrosis, and obstruction, and resulting in the characteristic enlargement and thickening of the skin. Diethylcarbamazine often kills the adult worms or impairs their reproductive capabilities, and the antibiotic doxycycline, which works by killing symbiotic bacteria that live inside the worms, also eliminates adult worms.

Symptoms of Elephantiasis

Some Symptoms common of Elephantiasis :

  • Fever
  • Pain in testicles
  • Severe swelling
  • Pain above testicles
  • Blocked lymph ducts
  • Enlarged groin lymph nodes
  • Swollen liver

Treatment of Elephantiasis

Here is the list of the methods for treating Elephantiasis :

  • Diethylcarbamazine
  • Surgery for massive leg swelling (elephantiasis) with a fluid shunting procedure
  • Elevate and exercise the swollen arm or leg to move the fluid and improve the lymph flow
  • Bandaging
  • Medicines to treat lymphatic filariasis are most effective when used soon after infection, but they do have some toxic side effects.
  • Surgical treatment may be helpful for issues related to scrotal elephantiasis and hydrocele. However, surgery is generally ineffective at correcting elephantiasis of the limbs.