Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms which are transmitted through mosquito bite. More than 1.3 billion people worldwide are at risk from infection. Lymphatic filariasis is the second leading cause of disability, worldwide.
The worms lodge in the lymphatic system producing millions of immature larvae that circulate in the blood and can cause severe swelling of the arms, legs, breasts and/or genitalia. This causes the affected area to become grossly enlarged, with thickened, coarse skin.
Symptoms vary, but usually begin with chills, headache and fever between three months and one year after the insect bite. There may also be swelling, redness, and pain in the affected areas. Abscesses may also appear as a result of a secondary bacterial infection.
As the inflammation progresses it becomes more difficult for people to work and perform daily chores. Many people with lymphatic filariasis cannot maintain physical relationships. This can lead to difficulties in marriage, which is often the primary source of security for women.
Lymphatic filariasis is incurable and treatment is limited as severe swelling cannot be reversed.
Despite the fact that its effects cannot be reversed lymphatic filariasis has been identified as one of the few diseases that can potentially be eliminated, using Mass Drug Administration (MDA) to interrupt transmission.
In addition it is possible for those already affected to manage the condition by practicing self-care and hygiene practices taught by LEPRA Health in Action. This helps to prevent further disability.
Other prevention techniques include the use of mosquito nets, the draining of breeding pools and using gambusia fish to eat mosquito larvae.
We are active in Bangladesh, India and Nepal trying to fight this appalling disease.
Health education activities aimed at mobilising communities against lymphatic filariasis are carried out in Bangladesh to support the Mass Drug Administration Programme of the Bangladeshi Government.
Patients who apply self-care techniques taught by LEPRA benefit from significant improvements in their condition.
Over 120 million people are affected by this disease worldwide and one-third of them live in India.
Anjaiah’s leprosy went undiagnosed despite repeated consultations with his doctor.