Filariasis is a parasitic infection that causes abnormal swelling of different body parts that may lead to permanent disability in some cases. The filarial nematode parasites are spread from one person to another through mosquitoes. Filariasis is a chronic disorder that is most common in tropical regions including Brazil, Guyana, parts of Africa, south Asia etc.
Filariasis can be of different types depending on the part of the body that the parasites occupy. The three major types of filariasis are- lymphatic filariasis, subcutaneous filariasis and serous cavity filariasis. Lymphatic filariasis occurs when the lymphatic system is affected by the parasites and a chronic case of the same can lead to elephantiasis, a condition in which body parts swell to abnormally disproportionate dimensions. Subcutaneous filariasis occurs when the subcutaneous tissues are infected by the parasites. Serous cavity filariasis occurs when parasites occupy the serous cavity of the abdomen.
The most common symptom of lymphatic filariasis is edema which is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in parts of the body. Edema can lead to elephantiasis that is almost always a chronic condition and brings with itself physical disability and social stigma. Symptoms for subcutaneous filariasis include itching, rashes and arthritis. Serous cavity filariasis also causes abdominal pain and itching.
Filariasis, unfortunately, is a chronic condition in most of the cases. However, surgery is an option for people who don't have it that serious. The diet plan and physical activity schedule of a person is of extreme importance too.
Elephantiasis of the scrotal sac or any large hydroceles can be dealt with by the way of a surgical excision. Elephantiasis of the limbs can be corrected with surgery in very little cases and may need more than one surgical procedure and heavy skin grafting. Their is a procedure called lymphology surgery that can treat the not-too serious cases of limb elephantiasis. Filariasis is a chronic condition more often than not. So the easiest to really deal with it is by adopting measures to prevent it. People must be very careful about what enters their body to keep filariasis at bay. People who have chyluria (presence of chyle in the urine stream) must cut down on fatty foods and maintain a diet that is high on protein. People who suffer from limb elephantiasis are advised to mobilize the said limb and keep it at an elevated position at night. The best way to deal with filariasis is to ensure its prevention. To eradicate filariasis, the microfilarae has to be eliminated from the blood of the infected individuals. The spread of the parasites from one individual to the next can be stopped in only this way. Mass drug administration programmes are organized in endemic countries to eliminate this disease. It is important for filariasis to be completely eliminated as it is a chronic condition in most of the cases. The drug that's used is diethylcarbamazine (DEC). So, mass drug administration in affected communities is very important. These measures have brought down the number of affected people considerably.
Edema, the most common symptom of lymphatic filariasis, develops many years after the person gets affected. So, it is very hard to detect filariasis before it gets to a serious stage. People living in endemic regions are eligible for the drug administration programs to eliminate the disorder. Surgery is also an option for a few affected people; however, surgery is successful in very rare cases.
As the physical manisfestations of filariasis are visible years after a person actually gets affected, many people suffering from filariasis don't actually get treated before it's too long.
Like any other major surgery, the surgery for lymphatic filariasis has its share of side effects. The drugs injected to eliminate filariasis can aggravate the condition of one's onchoceral eye disease.
People who undergo lymphology procedure must adhere by the guidelines set by their surgeons.
The time of recovery varies from one individual to the next and the severity of the condition in the respective individuals. People who undergo lymphology need almost a month to recover completely.
The cost of drug administration is quite affordabele with the cost ranging from Rs.10 to Rs.150 per year. The cost of surgery in India really depends upon the extent of it.
Mass drug administration is able to permanently destroy all the parasites in the body. The permanence of the lymphology procedure however cannot be guaranteed.