Although it may be difficult to diagnose, and possibly caused by parasitic worms such as Wuchereria Bancrofti, Brugia Malayi, B Timon, and others.
Elephantiasis, also known as Lymphatic Filariasis, is a rare disorder of the lymphatic system resulting from complex interactions between the infecting worms, the Wolbachia bacteria in the worms, the patient’s immune system responses, and the infections and disorders that can arise from them.
How Elephantiasis Is Transmitted:
Elephantiasis can be transmitted by the bite of mosquitos injecting larvae into the bloodstream where they can live for several years, and restrict lymph fluid circulation in the surrounding tissues, producing symptoms such as fevers, enlarged lymph nodes, and pain.
Massive swelling of the legs, the breasts, the genitalia, the liver, and the spleen may also occur and debulking is often required for the severest cases of Elephantiasis.
Elephantiasis, known as Podoconiosis, may also occur without parasitic infestations.
Causes Of Elephantiasis:
The exact causes of the swelling resulting from Elephantiasis are unknown although Streptococcal Lymphangitis may be a contributing factor.
Obstructions, inflammations of the lymphatic vessels, back pressure in lymphatic channels, superficial vessel dilations, and death of surrounding tissues caused by Elephantiasis may also occur.
Referring to the thick baggy skin on the affected limbs of afflicted patients resembling that found on elephants, Medications that have shown effectiveness in killing intruding worms often associated with Elephantiasis include the following:
Albendazole is a compound commonly used with Diethylcarbamazine, a synthetic organic medication highly specific for treating several parasites, however, possible Albendazole side effects may include dizziness, headaches, fevers, nausea, and temporary hair loss.
Administered as a weekly IV injection, and used to eliminate parasites, Suramin’s most common side effect is nausea, although other ailments such as urticarial rashes, adrenal cortical damage, a tingling sensation of the skin, kidney damage, and exfoliative dermatitis may also develop as a result of Suramin treatments.
Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medicine that rapidly kills microfilariae but not adult worms. Ivermectin’s major side effect concern is neurotoxicity and CNS depression with ataxis, the loss of muscle movement coordination, such as in the cerebellum.
The worst symptoms of Elephantiasis generally appear in adults and in men more than women. Men may suffer with Hydocaele, the fluid-filled enlargement of the sacs around the testes and scrotum, however, as previously stated, Elephantiasis can also affect the legs, arms, vulva, and breasts.
Previously: Are Lymphedema Surgical Procedures Advisable?
Next Time: Pulmonary Lymphangiomatosis.