What is lymphatic filariasis? Here’s why you need to be aware about this condition

The Government of Maharashtra’s Public Health department has brought on board actor Swwapnil Joshi as the official ‘Brand Ambassador for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF)’ in Maharashtra. The actor will help raise awareness about Lymphatic Filariasis (or Hathi Rog, as it is colloquially known) and the government’s efforts to eliminate the disease from Maharashtra

What is lymphatic filariasis, here’s why you need to be aware about this condition

The popular Marathi actor will help raise awareness about Lymphatic Filariasis (Hatti Rog) and the government’s efforts to eliminate the disease from Maharashtra.

Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma

Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, (Hathi Rog), is a neglected tropical disease. The infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. Infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.

The painful and profoundly disfiguring visible manifestations of the disease, lymphoedema, elephantiasis and scrotal swelling occur later in life and can lead to permanent disability.

These patients are not only physically disabled, but also suffer mental, social, and financial losses due to stigma and poverty.

Over 31 million people in India are estimated to be infected with filariasis and over 29 million suffer from disability associated with the disease. As of 2017, Maharashtra recorded 65,155 cases of filariasis.

The Maharashtra government, under the National Programme for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis, will undertake Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in Nagpur from January 20.

Dr Prakash Bhoi, Joint Director Health Services, Pune, said, “Lymphatic filariasis is transmitted by different types of mosquitoes for example by the Culex mosquito, widespread across urban and semi-urban areas, Anopheles mosquito, mainly found in rural areas, and Aedes mosquito, mainly in endemic islands in the Pacific.”

Lymphatic filariasis infection involves asymptomatic, acute, and chronic conditions. The majority of infections are asymptomatic, showing no external signs of infection while contributing to transmission of the parasite.

These asymptomatic infections still cause damage to the lymphatic system and the kidneys, and alter the body’s immune system.

India bears approximately 40% of the global Lymphatic Filariasis burden, with 630 million people at risk of contracting the disease across 256 districts in 16 states and 5 Union Territories (UTs).

“We have launched a national programme to eliminate it. Under this we are carrying out a mass drug administration programme for the at risk population. On June 13, 2018, Union Health Minister, J P Nadda launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF). The plan focuses on strengthening critical programmatic and health systems gaps along with introduction of new strategies like the WHO-recommended Triple Drug Therapy (TDT). The three-drug combination of Ivermectin, DEC and Albendazole (IDA), aims to accelerate efforts in the country to achieve the 2020 lymphatic filariasis elimination target,” said a health official requesting anonymity.

Also Read :- Devastating elephantiasis disease is facing elimination