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Lymphatic Filariasis – Diagnosis and Treatment

Lymphatic filariasis

is a type of parasitic infection, which is primarily caused by thin, microscopic worms in the humans lymphatic system. The adult worms can only survive in the lymph system. This system helps in maintaining the body’s fluid balance. Also, it helps in fighting infections. This infection affects nearly 120 million people in 80 countries. It mainly affects the sub-tropics and tropics of South America, Caribbean, the Western Pacific, Africa and Asia. The disease is not prevalent in the United States. Read on to know more about the

diagnosis and treatment of lymphatic filariasis

.

Diagnosis of Lymphatic Filariasis

The primary and standard mode for diagnosing this infection is by identifying the microfilariae via microscopic examination. Although, this is not a suitable method in many parts of the word as microfilaria are periodic nocturnal. This means that the worms circulate in the blood at night only.

To detect the microfilariae for the diagnosis of this infection, another alternative method is implemented. Serological techniques are the alternative method. Most of the times, the lab tests turn negative as lymphedema usually develops many years after infection.

Treatment for Lymphatic Filariasis

Patients afflicted with this disease can take annual dose of

diethylcarbamazine (DEC)

, which eliminates the adult worms circulating in the blood. Although, this drug does not eliminates all the adult worms. But it prevents the spreading of the disease. Elephantiasis and lymphedema are not indicators for this mode of treatment as patients suffering from lymphedema are not infected with the filarial worms. One should follow a few basic routine steps to prevent lymphedema from getting much worse:

  • Disinfect wounds. If necessary, use antifungal or antibacterial cream.
  • Exercise and elevate the swollen leg or arm. This helps in lymph flow and circulation of fluids.
  • Wash the swollen area with soap-water every day.

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