Elephantiasis Filariasis

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Filariasis is a disease caused by the filarial worm Wuchereria. The filarial worm is a type of pathogenic helminth. Hence filariasis is classified as a parasitic disease. The disease is spread by the bite of mosquitoes. The symptoms of the disease are swelling of legs and genitals.

What is Filariasis?

Filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by a roundworm of the family Filarioidea. The filarial worms are transmitted and spread by blood-feeding black flies and mosquitoes. Upon entering the body, the larvae of the worm accumulate in an organ of the body and multiply where they cause chronic inflammation of that organ. Depending upon the infecting parasite, there are two different kinds of filariasis that affect different parts of the body.

Types of Filariasis

Following are the different types of filariasis elephantiasis:

Lymphatic Filariasis

It is caused by the Wuchereria bancrofti worms, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. These worms affect the lymphatic system, especially the lymph nodes. Chronic cases of lymphatic filariasis lead to the disease Elephantiasis.

Subcutaneous Filariasis

It is caused by the Loa loa worm which burrows itself in the subcutaneous fat layer right under the skin. These worms are responsible for river blindness.



Filariasis Elephantiasis Symptoms

The filariasis elephantiasis symptoms include:

  • Swelling in:
    • legs
    • Arms
    • Genitals
    • Breasts
  • Damaged lymph system resulting in an impaired immune system.
  • Repeated bacterial infections of the skin.
  • Fevers
  • Chills

Also Read: Infectious Diseases

The Life Cycle of a Filarial Worm

The life cycle of the filarial worm is explained below:

  • Mosquitoes act as carriers for the disease.
  • The larvae of the parasite enter the bloodstream, consume the resources that we need and grow into adults. The growth occurs in the lymphatic system.
  • The larvae then mature and the adult filarial worms release smaller worms called microfilariae covered in a protective coating of the blood. The next time a mosquito bites the person, these microfilariae enter the mosquito with the blood cells.
  • In the mosquito, the microfilariae shed the covering and begin to grow. This mosquito is now contaminated with filarial larvae which can then infect another human.

Causes of Elephantiasis Filariasis

Elephantiasis is caused by three types of parasitic worms:

  • Wuchereria bancrofti
  • Brugia timori
  • Brugia malayi

These worms affect the lymphatic system that is responsible for removing the toxins and wastes from the body. When the lymphatic system is blocked, it is unable to remove toxins from the body. This results in the accumulation of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling.

When the infected Anopheles mosquitoes bite a healthy person, the larvae called microfilariae move into the lymph nodes and develop into adult worms and persist for years.

Treatments and Preventions for Filariasis

Filariasis is one of the painful diseases caused by mosquitoes. There are several drugs and other surgical procedures available to treat stressful diseases by destroying the worms present in the blood. Along with this treatment, certain precautions should be followed to prevent mosquito bites.

Also Read: Human Diseases

Filariasis and elephantiasis are not different from each other since the latter is a type of filariasis, commonly known as lymphatic filariasis.

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more about what is filariasis elephantiasis, types of filariasis, filariasis elephantiasis symptoms, causes and prevention.

Frequently Asked Questions on Elephantiasis Filariasis


Which phylum does Wuchereria belong to?

Wuchereria belongs to the phylum aschelminthes or phylum nematoda. It is a pseudocoelomate roundworm.


What is river blindness?

River blindness is a disease caused by filarial nematodes called Loa loa worms. They cause subcutaneous filariasis.


How elephantiasis can be prevented?

Elephantiasis can be prevented by using mosquito repellents, preventing stagnant water and killing mosquito larvae.

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