Lymphatic Filariasis: What Is It And What Does Mosquitoes And Worms Have To Do With It?
There are many health problems and diseases that can make a serious effect on a person’s quality of living. One of these diseases is called Lymphatic Filariasis.
Lymphatic Filariasis is a disease that may result in great swelling and thickening of the skin. Most common affected areas are the lower extremities such as the legs and feet, and also the genitals. There were even documented cases of men who suffered from much enlarged scrotums, three times the size of a melon.
Lymphatic Filariasis involves two major culprits: the right kind of mosquito and worm. Everything begins with an infected mosquito bite. Mosquitoes that belong to the genus Culex, Aedes, and Anopheles are the main transports of the parasitic worm, Wuchereria bancrofti.
Aside from the Wuchereria bancrofti, there are also two more types of roundworms that cause Lymphatic Filariasis. The worms Brugia malayi are carried by mosquitoes belonging to the genus Anopheles and Mansonia. On the other hand, the worm Brugia timori is transported by the Anopheles mosquito.
In most cases of people suffering from Lymphatic Filariasis, a large number of this is caused by the Wuchereria bancrofti. This is due to the fact that the worm’s only known host is Man.
The cycle of infection begins when an infected mosquito bites a human and then deposits all the specific larvae it carries. Then, these larvae will start its journey via the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system serve as the body’s filtration system and this is where the damage will take place.
The deposited larvae will take their positions near the lymph nodes where they will begin to mature into adult worms and start their reproduction. Depending on the type of worm, their life cycle can reach from a month to very long years. As these worms reproduce their little babies called microfilariae, these babies will travel through the bloodstream and wait to be transported through mosquito ingestion. If ingested, these larvae will continue to mature depending on the right type of mosquito “transport” and will still continue to mature even when deposited to another human host. On the other hand, ungested microfilariae die within a year.
As these worms continue to reproduce and double their population over a long period of time, blockage problems start. The symptoms most felt by the suffering person is due to the accumulation of the worm’s excretions and the presence of the worms themselves.
As the worms’ presence create havoc to the lymphatic system’s regular function, fluid buildup starts due to the blockage. Fluid retention and tissue swelling is a condition known as Lymphedema or lymphatic obstruction. Such conditions may lead to serious infection if left untreated. Because of the great swelling, oxygen supply is also affected. And less oxygen supply leads to poor wound healing and a very favorite spot for bacterial growth.
People suffering from Lymphatic Filariasis will benefit the most if treated at the earliest possible period. There is a drug called, diethylcarbamazine (DEC), being used to treat lymphatic filariasis.
DEC works its magic in killing all the baby worms (microfilariae) at once. As for the adult worms, there is more work to be done for these worms are a lot tougher to eliminate. That is why, it is recommended to take the drugs over a long period of time.
Because of the body’s natural response to allergic reactions, side effects are most likely due to the dying worms rather than the drug itself.
Aside from DEC, there is another drug called Ivermectin that shows promising results in killing the baby worms. But then, still needs further studies on its effect to the adult worms.