What is Filariasis? Know its Types, Symptoms, Precautions and Treatment methods
Filariasis is an infectious disease that is transmitted through mosquito bites. Filariasis is caused by several round, circular and filamentous parasitic worms belonging to the filariasis family. This parasite enters the skin either by itself or through holes made by mosquito bites to reach the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system balances fluid levels and protects your body from infection and when the system is infected, it affects the immunity and causes infection.
Filariasis is most common in tropical climates.Higher cases of filariasis infection are most commonly found in countries like Asia, Africa and South America.
Types of Filariasis
Two common types of Filariasis are as following:
The lymphatic system is infected by Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori. Severe cases of lymphatic filariasis cause elephantiasis, i.e. a deep disfiguring disease in which a body part swells. One of the main problems with this filariasis is that this infection can be acquired in childhood, but visible manifestations can appear later in life, eventually leading to temporary or permanent disability. Since the lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system, an imbalance can harm your immune system.
This infection affects the subcutaneous tissue or subcutaneous fat under the skin and is caused by Loa loa worms, Onchocerca volvulus, Mansonella streptocerca and Dracunculus medinensis (guinea worms) which causes river blindness.
Symptoms of Filariasis
Below are the symptoms of two different types of Filariasis;
- Elephantiasis i.e. fluid retention and swelling
- Weakened immune system
- Swelling and fluid collection in the scrotum
- Skin rashes
- Tropical pulmonary eosinophilia syndrome
- Swelling and fluid buildup in the arms, legs, breasts and vulva
- Itching in the body
- Urticaria (Hives)
- Skin rashes
- River blindness
Precautions to be taken
- Avoid mosquito bites
- Avoid going out at night or at dawn when filariasis mosquitoes are highly active
- Cover your body with a long sleeve shirt and pants
- Sleep in insecticide-treated mosquito nets or regular mosquito nets
- Avoid strong fragrances or colognes, which can attract mosquitoes
- Use mosquito repelling or mosquito killing products
What type of mosquito transmits & Filariasis?
- The type of mosquito that transmits filariasis depends on the type of filariasis worm they come in contact with.
- Filariasis is caused by the Wuchereria bancrofti worm which is transmitted by Culex quinquefasciatus and Brugia malayi worm which is transmitted by Aedes, Mansonia and Anopheles mosquitoes.
How is Filariasis diagnosed?
To diagnose lymphatic filariasis, doctors need to examine blood samples. This can be done by:
Microscopic testing: Healthcare providers can view a sample of your blood under a microscope. With a microscope, they can see if your blood contains Filarial worms. Roundworms appear regularly at night, which means they only move around in your blood at night. Because of this, you may need to draw blood at night.
Antibody testing:Healthcare providers can measure your blood sample for antibodies. Antibodies are organisms your body makes in response to infection. You can do this test during the day.
Treatment for Filariasis
Treatment depends on what symptoms you have and how severe they are:
You can take antiparasitic drugs such as diethylcarbamazine (Hetrazan), ivermectin (Stromectol) or albendazole (Albenza). These drugs kill adult worms in your blood or stop them from multiplying. Taking these medicines can also prevent you from passing the infection on to others. Since worms can still live in your body, take this medication once a year for a few weeks.
Surgery helps to remove dead worms from your bloodstream. If filariasis has caused a hydrocele, you may have to surgically remove fluid buildup in the scrotum.
Your doctor may also recommend strategies to manage swelling, such as elevation or compression garments.
There are various types of treatments for filariasis in Ayurveda such as Daha karma (cauterization), Kshara karma (alkalization) and different types of lepa’s (tropical application).
Side effects of Filariasis treatment
Anti-parasitic medications can lead to adverse side effects. Some of these side effects include:
- Muscle or joint pain
Home Remedies of Filariasis
Clove is a very effective home remedy for the treatment of filariasis. The enzymes present in cloves kill the parasite as soon as it grows. Patients can take tea prepared from cloves.
Drink three to four drops of black walnut oil in a glass of hot water. It can be taken twice a day. Due to the properties present in walnuts, the number of insects in the blood begins to decrease and is gradually completely eliminated. For quick results, take this remedy daily for at least six weeks.
Vitamin C is abundant in Amla. It also contains anthelmintic , which is very useful for fast wound healing. Daily consumption of amla protects against infection.
To treat filariasis, prepare a paste by grinding shankhpushpi roots with hot water. Apply this paste to the affected area. It helps reduce swelling
Ashwagandha is the main ingredient in Shilajit, which has many uses in Ayurveda. Ashwagandha is used to treat filariasis.
To get rid of filariasis, drink dry ginger powder or dry ginger daily with hot water. Its consumption destroys the parasites present in the body and helps the patient recover quickly.
Mix rock salt in shankhpushpi powder and dry ginger, a pinch with hot water twice a day.
Brahmi has been used to treat many diseases since ancient times. To treat filariasis, brahmi is ground and the paste is applied. It reduces the patient's swelling effectively.
To treat filariasis, include some foods such as garlic, pineapple, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apricots in your daily diet. They contain vitamin A and have special properties to kill bacteria.
Black walnut oil-
When to see a doctor?
It is recommended to see a physician for an accurate diagnosis of filariasis if you experience unusual swelling, inflammation and pain in the body. If you are diagnosed with elephantiasis, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for filariasis based on the severity of your condition.