Elephantiasis

Elephantiasis

Chris Schach

Author Bio -

Key Points
*Condition is a symptom of a parasitic infection caused by nematodes affecting the lymphatic system.
*Condition results in swelling of limbs, breasts, or genitalia to a massive, thick, rough grey color similar to an elephant.

Elephantiasis is a symptom of lymphatic Filariasis, sometimes called Bancroftian and Malayan Filariasis, in which is parasitic infection is caused by filarial parasitic worms (nematodes), that affects the lymphatic system. It can be caused by several parasites, including Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori.

Elephantiasis is a condition where the limbs swell to the point that they resemble an elephant's foreleg in size, texture and color. This thickening of the skin and swelling of underlying tissues is caused by parasites lodged in the lymphatic system, a network of channels, nodes and organs that maintain proper fluid levels in the body. Elephantiasis appears to be due an immune response to the dead and dying worms in the lymphatic system. Mainly limbs, breasts and genitalia are affected. Without treatment continued lymphatic damage will lead to irreversible Elephantiasis.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)
Asthma
Hodgkin Disease
Hydrocele
Leprosy
Lymphedema
Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin
Milroy Disease
Scrotal Trauma

    Diagnosis
    Key Points
    *Diagnosis is performed through clinical inspection to confirm correct diagnosis.

    Diagnosis is performed through clinical inspection to confirm correct diagnosis.

    Treatment
    Key Points
    *Treatment involves medicines and Antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
    *Surgery may be necessary for severely damaged extremities.

    Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) is the registered drug for combating Elephantiasis, especially in combination with Ivermectin. Tetracycline Antibiotics help kill the bacterial infection. Severely damaged extremities may undergo surgical decompression or excision.

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