What Is Filariasis? All You Need to Know About This Disease

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What Is Filariasis?

Filariasis is an infection caused by a number of different parasites, most commonly worms of the genera Wuchereria, Brugia and Onchocerca. It is a tropical, vector-borne and infectious disease that can cause an array of lymphatic and skin related symptoms. Filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is characterized by abnormal enlargement of the limbs limbs and other body parts.

Causes of Filariasis

The parasites that cause filariasis are spread through mosquito bites. These parasites can survive up to two years in the human body before they are passed onto another mosquito bite. The infected person usually develops symptoms after two to four years of the mosquito bite.

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Symptoms of Filariasis

The symptoms of filariasis vary depending on the genus of the parasitic worm involved. Common symptoms include:

  • Swollen limbs: Swelling of the arms and/or legs due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluid.
  • Skin lesions: Swollen, bright red sores with a small, white or yellowish center.
  • Fever: Low-grade fever and chills may be present in some cases.
  • Pain: Achy or throbbing sensation in the affected area.
  • Muscle weakness: Weakness of the affected limb(s).
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Diagnosis and Treatment

Filariasis can be diagnosed by analysis of a blood sample, which allows the lab to identify the type of parasite responsible. Treatment usually involves the use of antibiotics to kill the parasites and reduce symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected tissue. Additionally, medications can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling. It is important to take these medications as prescribed and continue treatment until the infection is cured.

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Prevention

The best way to prevent filariasis is to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and pants and using an insect repellent. Eliminating standing water around the home can also reduce the risk. Additionally, it is important to treat any existing infestations promptly to stop the spread of the parasites.

Taking steps to prevent filariasis is important to halt the spread of the disease and reduce the risk of serious complications. Although filariasis is a serious illness, it can usually be treated and prevented with the right steps.

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