Lymphatic Filariasis: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment


Lymphatic filariasis is a very painful disease it all starts by a single infected mosquito; they attack and spread this disease, which is also known as elephantiasis. Lymphatic filariasis can leave you disabled and looking disfigured. The 3 – 10 cm long parasites travel and grow within your lymphatic system and circulate in your blood. They weaken your immune system and show very little symptoms until it is too late.

What is the Lymphatic Filariasis System:

The lymphatic system returns fluid to the blood and aids in body defense. Fluids and some blood proteins that leak from the capillaries into the interstitial fluid are returned to the blood via the lymphatic system.


Lymphatic filariasis is caused by nematodes (roundworms) that inhabit the lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes of a human host. Larvae develop into worms over a period of 6-12 months, worms in the lymphatic system that will lead to dilation and damage to the lymphatic vessel and damage to lymphatic vessel lead to pathologic lymphatic filariasis.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Your tissue begins to swell and thicken
  • Fluid begins to accumulate
  • Enlargement of the breasts and genital organs are most common

Stages of Lymphatic Filariasis:

Stage-1 Swelling reverses at night, Skin folds-absent, the appearance of skin-smooth, normal.

Stage-2 Swelling not reversible at night, Skin folds-absent, the appearance of skin-smooth, normal.

Stage-3 Swelling not reversible at night, Skin folds-shallow, the appearance of skin-smooth, normal.

Stage-4 Swelling not reversible at night, Skin folds-shallow, the appearance of irregular, knobs, nodules.

Stage-5 Swelling not reversible at night, Skin folds deep, the appearance of skin-smooth or irregular.

Stage-6 Swelling not reversible at night, Skin folds-absent, shallow, deep and appearance of skin-mossy lesions on foot or top of the toes.

Stage-7 Swelling the same at night, Skin folds deep, the appearance of skin-irregular and needs help for daily activities – working, bathing, using bathrooms, dependent on family or health care systems.


The only treatments are prescription and drugs Albendazole and Ivermectin. And also the drug diethylcarbamazine (DEC) is used to treat lymphatic filariasis and can be prevented by taking DEC to rid of the carried insects in the area. Mosquito control is another measure that can be used to suppress transmission such as insecticide-treated nets or indoor residential spraying so you can help eradicate lymphatic filariasis.


Since there is no known vaccine for lymphatic filariasis, the most effective method that exists to control the disease by avoiding mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that carry the microscopic worms usually bite between the night hours. It is recommended that once you have a case of severe lymphatic filariasis maintain rigorous hygiene or you could attract a secondary infection.

The highlighted areas are where most cases of lymphatic filariasis occur are South America, Africa, and Asia. The disease mainly affects poor people in Africa, Asia, and South America, and is associated with malnutrition. Common places found Egypt, Southern Asia, Western Pacific Region, Northeast Region Brazil, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Travelers are at low risk. Around 1.4 billion people in 73 countries are at risk of lymphatic filariasis. Over 120 million currently infected and over 40 million currently disfigured. Lymphatic filariasis is associated in poor countries, due to poor sanitation and poverty.

Lymphatic filariasis is the abnormal enlargement of body parts. It is the result of an altered lymphatic system. This is one of seven neglected tropical diseases. NTD’s are diseases there is a known cure to but have not been eradicated yet, infection is usually acquired in childhood, but disfigurement from the disease occurs later in life. To stop it from spreading the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) recommends annual mass drug administration.

Lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels often accompany chronic lymphoedema. Approximately 65% of those infected live in the South-East Asia Region. 30% of the infected life in the African region. The remainder of those infected lives in other tropical areas. This effects over 25 million men with the genital disease and afflicts over 15 million people with lymphoedema. The majority of infections are asymptomatic.


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