June 19, 2024

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WHO Announces Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Laos

WHO Announces Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Laos

WHO Announces Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Laos

On October 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has successfully eliminated lymphatic filariasis, a public health issue. 

This marks the second neglected tropical disease (NTD) to be eliminated in the country, following the elimination of trachoma in 2017.

Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes.

It causes the swelling of body parts and often leads to pain, severe disabilities, social stigma, and associated economic hardships.

In 2002, the disease was prevalent in the southern province of Attapeu in Laos. Between 2012 and 2017, local health authorities and partners provided preventive medication to high-risk communities. Currently, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic becomes the 19th country to be recognized by WHO for eliminating lymphatic filariasis. (Source: WHO)


WHO Announces Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Laos



What is Lymphatic Filariasis?

Lymphatic filariasis, also commonly known as elephantiasis, is a parasitic disease caused by thread-like nematode worms, specifically the Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori parasites.
These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

The disease primarily affects the lymphatic system, which is a part of the body’s immune system responsible for fluid balance and filtering harmful microorganisms.

When a person is bitten by a mosquito carrying the larvae of these filarial worms, the larvae can enter the body and develop into adult worms. These adult worms typically reside in the lymphatic vessels, leading to a condition known as lymphatic filariasis.

Lymphatic filariasis can result in various symptoms and complications, including:

  1. Lymphedema: This condition is characterized by the swelling of body parts, often the legs, arms, and genitalia, due to the blockage of lymphatic vessels by the worms or their eggs. It can lead to significant disfigurement and disability.

  2. Acute attacks: People with lymphatic filariasis may experience episodes of pain, fever, and inflammation in the affected limbs during acute attacks.

  3. Hydrocele: In males, the infection can cause fluid accumulation in the scrotum, resulting in hydrocele, which can be quite painful and disfiguring.

  4. Thickening and hardening of the skin: Over time, the skin in the affected areas may become thickened and hardened, further contributing to physical disability.

Lymphatic filariasis is not only a health issue but also a social problem, as it can lead to stigma and discrimination, particularly in communities where the disease is prevalent. It can have a substantial impact on the quality of life and economic well-being of affected individuals.

Preventive measures against lymphatic filariasis include mass drug administration (MDA) of antiparasitic drugs to at-risk populations, personal protection against mosquito bites, and improved sanitation and vector control measures to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been actively working to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in various endemic regions through these interventions.


WHO Announces Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Laos

(source:internet, reference only)

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