Filariasis: Symptoms and Treatment

Filariasis is a tropical disease, the development of which is observed as a result of penetration into the human body of parasitic worms, called filarias. In the medical literature, this pathology is also referred to as an elephant disease. Filariasis has the opportunity to get infected from either a sick person or animal, or from an insect bite. After penetrating the human body, worms are first located in the lymph nodes and vessels, so the ailment also has another name — lymphatic filariasis. Also, worms penetrate into the cavities of the human body, the genitals, eyeballs and under the skin.

Symptoms of filariasis appear very clearly already in the first stages of the progression of the disease. The patient has a violation of the outflow of lymph, edema is formed, as well as ulcers and warts are formed on the skin. If you do not help the victim, the disease will go into a chronic form and the so-called elephantia will begin to progress. That part of the body that hit the filaria begins to increase tens of times rapidly. There is also a rapid growth of connective tissue and bone structures.

Filariasis has no restrictions, regarding sex and age. It is diagnosed with equal frequency both among representatives of the strong half of mankind, and among women. The incubation period of this morbid condition is from 3 to 18 months. Its duration directly depends on the reactivity of the human body, as well as on the anatomical features of the pathogen.


The causative agent of filariasis is a parasitic worm, the filaria. The final owner of this parasite is a person. It is in his body that adults live actively. Usually adult filarians live «tangles». In one such «coil» there are individuals both male and female. In the process of their vital activity, parasites multiply and appear microfilariae (larvae). They can freely spread through the body of a person with a blood stream. A favorite place of their localization is the subcutaneous capillaries.

At the moment when the patient bites any bloodsucking insect, a number of larvae penetrate into it along with blood elements. Such an insect now acts as an intermediate host. In his body, they ripen throughout the week. At the moment when the blood-sucking insect again bites the person to get food for themselves, ripe parasites tear his trunk and fall on the surface of the human skin. Through the microtrauma they enter the bloodstream and are already turning into adult parasites. The whole process takes from 3 to 18 months (the so-called incubation or latent period).

Favorite places for parasitizing adult filarias:

  • lymph nodes
  • lymphatic vessels
  • eyes;
  • abdominal cavity;
  • eyelid;
  • scrotum


Progression of filariasis in humans occurs in 3 stages:

  1. Early. At this stage, larvae of the filaria appear in the bloodstream of the person. The duration of the stage is from 3 to 6 months;
  2. Carrier stage. At this stage, the maturation of the filaria and their transformation into mature individuals is observed. Also during this period, blood flow begins to actively spread throughout the body of the microfilaria. The duration of the stage is up to 7 years;
  3. stage of blockage. Mature individuals overlap the lymphatic lumen, resulting in elephantia.


Symptoms of filariasis directly depend on which stage of the pathological process the patient developed.

Symptoms of stage 1:

  • on the skin there are quite painful elements of the rash. This is a kind of reaction of the human body to the products of vital activity of microfilariae. On the skin, you can see the appearance of hyperemic areas. Gradually the reddening disappears, but the edema remains. If no medical measures are taken and the disease continues to progress, the skin will become thinner, the pigmentation in the affected area will be disrupted;
  • Hyperthermia. Protective reaction of the body to penetration of parasites;
  • lymph nodes increase in size, but touching them does not cause pain syndrome;
  • Asthma
  • inflammation of the spermatic cord, which subsequently leads to a dropsy testicle. The cause of such processes is also the involvement of lymph nodes and the violation of normal lymph drainage
  • inflammation of the testis. Progresses if microfilariae with blood flow were transferred to the vas deferens. It is noteworthy that only one testicle is affected;
  • mastitis. Symptoms of this pathology are very pronounced — the breast becomes hard and swollen, the skin over it is painful and hot
  • synovitis. It progresses due to the allergic reaction of the connective tissue of the articular joint. Characteristic signs — stiffness of movements (can be very strong) and painful syndrome in the affected joint.

Symptoms of the carrier stage:

  1. inflammation of the lymph nodes. This pathological process is accompanied by hyperthermia, headache of varying degrees of intensity, weakness. Affected lymph nodes may increase in diameter up to 7 cm;
  2. inflammatory lesion of lymphatic vessels
  3. destruction of lymphatic capillaries
  4. the accumulation of parasites under the epidermis. Visually it looks like a dense elastic knot on the skin. Most often such «tangles» occur on the ribs, head, limbs. In some clinical situations, such formations can fester and spontaneously open. At the site of the open formation remains an ulcer that does not heal for a long time;
  5. defeat of the visual apparatus. If the filarians penetrate the eyeball, the clinical picture will be supplemented by such symptoms: lacrimation, fear of light stimuli, inflammation of the conjunctival sac, pain in the eyes, discoloration of the iris. The sick person notes that he had «tongues of flame» before his eyes. If there is no urgent need to treat the filariasis, the parasitizing of worms will lead to atrophy of the optic nerve fibers and to complete blindness.

Symptoms of the blockage phase:

  • a characteristic sign of filariasis — elephantiasis. The patient increases a certain part of the body. This pathological process was triggered by inflammation of the lymphatic vessels and, as a consequence, stagnation of the lymph. Gradually, the subcutaneous tissue grows and it is replaced by a connective tissue. On the skin in large numbers, various outgrowths are formed-ulcers, warts and papillomas. In most clinical situations, elephantiasis is exposed to eyelids, arms, and genitals. This pathological process is usually accompanied by hyperthermia;
  • Hiluria. This is a specific symptom, which is characterized by the appearance of lymph in the urine. The color of urine changes to milky. Closer to the evening, an impurity of blood appears in it;
  • Chile diarrhea on the background of ascites. The volume of the abdominal cavity gradually increases due to accumulated lymph in it
  • pneumonia;
  • abscess.


The standard plan for diagnosing this ailment involves such procedures and manipulations:

  1. examining and interviewing the patient
  2. Mazzotti test
  3. Ultrasound of the subcutaneous nodes
  4. puncture of the formed subcutaneous nodes
  5. microcapillary method of blood testing
  6. «native drop» method
  7. study of «enriched drug» and «unenriched product.»

Healing measures

Treatment of filariasis is carried out by two methods — conservative and surgical. Medicamental treatment includes the appointment of such pharmaceuticals:

  • anthelmintic
  • antihistamines
  • glucocorticosteroids;
  • antibiotics.

The operative intervention is resorted only to the third stage of the progression of pathology. Methods of surgical intervention:

  1. removing «glomeruli» with filaria;
  2. removal of parasitic worms from the visual apparatus
  3. abdominal puncture
  4. surgical intervention in case of dropsy testicles

  5. surgical intervention to restore normal lymph flow.