What is Elephantiasis?

Elephantiasis is also known as lymphatic filariasis. It’s caused by parasitic worms and can spread from person to person through mosquitoes. It causes swelling of the scrotum, legs, or breasts. It is considered a neglected tropical disease.

Symptoms of Elephantiasis

The legs are the most commonly affected area. The swelling and enlargement of body parts can lead to pain and mobility issues. The skin is also affected and maybe:

  • Dry
  • Thick
  • Ulcerated
  • Darker than normal
  • Pitted

Some people experience additional symptoms, such as fever and chills. It affects the immune system. People with this condition are also at increased risk for a secondary infection.


Causes Elephantiasis

It is caused by parasitic worms that are spread by mosquitoes. There are three types of worms involved:

  1. Brugia malayi
  2. Wuchereria bancrofti
  3. Brugia timori

The worms affect the lymphatic system in the body. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste and toxins. If It becomes blocked, then it doesn’t properly remove waste. This leads to a backup of lymphatic fluid, which causes swelling.

Risk factors for elephantiasis

Elephantiasis can affect people at any age. It appears in both women and men. It’s more common in tropical and subtropical parts of the world, such as:

  • Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • India
  • South America

Common risk factors for elephantiasis include:

  • Living for a long time in tropical and subtropical areas
  • Having high exposure to mosquitoes
  • Living in unsanitary conditions

Diagnosing Elephantiasis

You need blood tests to help your doctor make a diagnosis. After taking a sample of your blood, it’s sent to a lab where it’s examined for the presence of the parasites. We have X-rays and ultrasounds to rule out the possibility of other problems causing the same symptoms.

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