What is filariasis?

Filariasis (elephantiasis) is a condition caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquito, called filarial worm. The most common symptom of filariasis is the gross enlargement an area of the body, especially the limbs caused by obstruction of the lymphatic system, which results in the accumulation of lymph in the affected area.

How common is filariasis?

Filariasis is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of filariasis?

The common symptoms of filariasis are:

  • Gross enlargement and swelling on the body, because of the accumulation of fluid.
  • A dry, thickened skin.
  • Ulcerated, pitted and darkened (hyperkeratosis) in the skin.
  • Fever, chills, and a general feeling of ill health (malaise).
  • Enlargement of the scrotum, retracted penis causing pain and burning sensation in male.
  • Ulcerated skin between the thighs accompanied by enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) of the legs and enlarged breasts in female.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes filariasis?

There are three types of worms causing filariasis is actually known, containing:

  • Wuchereria bancrofti ( bancrofti);
  • Brugia malayi (B. malayi);
  • Brugia timori (B.timori).


Risk factors

What increases my risk for filariasis?

There are many risk factors for filariasis, such as:

  • Living in the infected area.
  • Living condition and behaviors may increase the risk of being transmitted the worm by mosquito bite.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is filariasis diagnosed?

Filariasis can be diagnosed through clinical evaluation based on the detailed patient history and identification of characteristic symptoms.

Blood tests may be used to determine the presence of filarial worm in the blood.

How is filariasis treated?

Filariasis can be treated with diethylcarbamazine (DEC), typically 2 mg/kg taken orally per day, three times a day, for three weeks. The side effects of DEC occur commonly within the first few days of treatment, caused by the body’s natural allergic reactions to the dying parasites rather than to the DEC itself, including fever, chills, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, itching, and joint pain.

Another drug investigated in treatment of filariasis is Ivermectin. It may be excellent in killing microfilariae.

Surgery can be performed to reduce elephantiasis by removing excess fatty and fibrous tissue, draining the swelled area, and removing the dead worms.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage filariasis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with filariasis:

  • Avoiding mosquito bites with insecticides and insect repellents.
  • Wearing protective clothing.
  • Using bed netting.
  • Cleaning the breeding sites (stagnant water) of mosquitoes near people’s homes where filariasis is found.
  • Current preventative measures before visiting countries where lymphatic filariasis is found.
  • Using pressure bandages to wrap the swollen limb and elastic stockings to help reduce the pressure.
  • Exercising and elevating a bandaged limb can help reduce its.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: November 1, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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