14th January, 2023 Health
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- For India, Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) is not a neglected disease as may be the case in some other countries, but a priority disease for elimination in a time bound manner.
- India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027, three years ahead of the global target through mission mode, multi partner, multi sector, targeted drive for which we have drawn up the roadmap”.
- Lymphatic filariasis is a human disease caused by parasitic worms known as filarial worms.
- Usually acquired in childhood, it is a leading cause of permanent disability worldwide. While most cases have no symptoms, some people develop a syndrome called elephantiasis, which is marked by severe swelling in the arms, legs, breasts, or genitals.
- The skin may become thicker as well, and the condition may become painful. Affected people are often unable to work and are often shunned or rejected by others because of their disfigurement and disability.
- It is the first of the mosquito-borne diseasesto be have been identified.
- The worms are spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes. Three types of worms are known to cause the disease: Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori, with Wuchereria bancroftibeing the most common.
- These worms damage the lymphatic system. The disease is diagnosed by microscopic examinationof blood collected during the night. The blood is typically examined as a smear after being stained with Giemsa stain. Testing the blood for antibodies against the disease may also permit diagnosis. Other roundworms from the same family are responsible for river blindness.
- Prevention can be achieved by treating entire groups in which the disease exists, known as mass deworming. This is done every year for about six years, in an effort to rid a population of the disease entirely. Medicationsused include antiparasitics such as albendazole with ivermectin. The medications do not kill the adult worms but prevent further spread of the disease until the worms die on their own. Efforts to prevent mosquito bites are also recommended, including reducing the number of mosquitoes and promoting the use of bed nets.
- As of 2022, about 40 million people were infected, and about 863 million people were at risk of the disease in 47 countries. It is most common in tropical Africa and Asia. Lymphatic filariasis is classified as a neglected tropical diseaseand one of the four main worm infections. The impact of the disease results in economic losses of billions of dollars a year.