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Lymphatic Filariasis

Lymphatic filariasis is a debilitating Blood disease caused by nematode worms. Larval worms circulate in the Bloodstream of infected persons, and adult worms live in the lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic filariasis is not life threatening, but it does cause extreme discomfort, swelling of the limbs and genitals, damage to the kidneys and lymphatic system, impairment of the body’s ability to fight infection, and general malaise.

In addition, it produces immeasurable emotional and economic costs in terms of the disruption of family and community life. Approximately 120 million people in 73 endemic countries world-wide located primarily throughout tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa. Although designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the world’s second leading cause of permanent and long-term disability, this mosquito-transmitted Blood borne disease is "potentially eradicable" through drug therapy and vector control.

Transmission of Lymphatic Filariasis

Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic worm transmitted by the bites of mosquitoes in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Several species of mosquitoes can transmit the disease, but in rural Africa the Anopheles mosquito is the primary carrier for both lymphatic filariasis and malaria.

The parasite lives in the lymphatic system, a network of nodes and vessels that are part of the circulatory system. Adult worms live for four-to-six years, all the while producing millions of microfilariae, or baby worms, which live in the blood and continue the disease cycle. When a person's microfilariae load is high, a biting mosquito can pickup the larvae and transmit the disease when it bites its next victim.

The majority of infections are contracted during childhood, but individuals can remain asymptomatic for years. As the disease progresses, symptoms usually emerge during adulthood.

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