Q: Good evening. What’s the drug for elephantiasis? My leg started swelling since and I’ve taken a lot of drugs, both native and English, but no way. Please Dr, help a poor girl like me.
A: Elephantiasis is a disease condition in which there is swelling of the limbs, genitals or other body parts making them appear swollen and puffed-up, resembling an elephant. How does this happen? It actually starts with the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes, Culex, Mansonia or Anopheles mosquito) which transmits filarial worms that block the lymphatic system. I see the look of confusion already on your faces! 😀 What’s the lymphatic system, you say 😉
Well, the lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands distributed all over the body. They help to fight infections and drain excess fluids from tissues in the body. When this system is blocked, fluid no longer drains freely from the tissues leading to collection of fluids in the tissues, resultant body swelling and fever when this fluid collection gets infected. Chronic (longstanding) infection with these worms leads to elephantiasis with swelling (lymphedema) and hardening of the limbs. It really does require years of exposure to these infected mosquitoes for elephantiasis to occur. It is important to handle the infection before it gets to this stage.
Most people, however, will not have symptoms until years after being exposed when they develop these swellings.
There is no medication that is really active against adult worms. Focus is on management of symptoms. Exercise encourages lymphatic drainage, healthy diet, good skin care to prevent infection can help. Wearing special compression stockings/garment or having a special massage by a specialist to help lymph fluid drainage are also helpful aids.
Prevention of elephantiasis is key.
• Use of mosquito nets
• Use of medications to kill microfilariae in the blood
• Antibiotics for infections
• Surgical prevention of infected tissue
I advise that you focus on exercise, diet, good skin care etc and visit a Teaching Hospital to ensure that you get the specialized care you require at this time.
All the best.
Have a good night y’all 😀