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Lymphatic Filariasis: Insightful Review of a Neglected Tropical Disease

John Nartey Kanamitie
Department of Science, SDA College of Education, Koforidua, Ghana.


IJRISS Call for paper

Received: 31May 2023; Revised: 13 June 2023; Accepted: 20 June 2023; Published: 15 July 2023

Abstract: Lymphatic filariasis (LF), a neglected tropical disease has currently infected at least 51 million individuals globally, disfigured and incapacitated about 36 million and placed over 882 million people at risk of infection. It is a painful and profoundly disfiguring disease that can lead to permanent disability. Victims of the disease do not only manifest physical disability, but suffer psychological, social and financial losses leading to stigmatisation and poverty. Regardless of the fact that LF has burdened the majority of individuals in endemic regions for many years, evidence shows that the disease has been poorly understood and its medical importance underestimated. For the past two decades or so, since the launching of the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) by World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an avalanche of research works on the disease. This paper aims to provide a systematic and insightful review of the disease. The paper therefore provides a comprehensive outline of the global burden and distribution of LF, causative agents of human filariasis, life cycle of the parasite, clinical manifestations, diagnosis and control of LF.

Keywords: Anopheles vectors, Albendazole, Elephantiasis, Ivermectin, Lymphatic Filariasis

I. Introduction

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a neglected tropical disease caused by three species of lymphatic lodging filarial parasites: Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018; World Health Organization [WHO], 2022). It is a painful and profoundly disfiguring disease representing an important economic burden to many developing countries (WHO, 2014). The disease is the leading cause of physical disability and the second leading cause of long-term permanent and chronic disability after mental illness (CDC, 2013; Ton, Mackenzie & Molyneux, 2015; Zeldenryk et al., 2011).
Wuchereria bancrofti is predominantly responsible for about 90% of all LF cases, whilst the rest of the cases (10%) are caused by B. malayi and B. timori (Behera & Panda 2017; WHO, 2022). Bancroftian filariasis is sometimes used to refer to LF infections caused by W. bancrofti, while brugian filariasis refers to infections by the Brugia spp. (Nutman, 2017; Simonsen et al., 2014). The adults of these parasitic nematodes lodge within the lumen of the lymphatic vessels (CDC, 2018; Mahalingashetti et al., 2014) for an average of 6-8 years, producing millions of immature microfilariae (mf) that circulate in the blood (WHO, 2022).
The vectors of LF are species of mosquitoes belonging to the genera: Anopheles, Culex, Mansonia and Aedes. These genera alongside Coquilletidia and Ochlerotatus have been associated to be vectors of the LF parasites (Cano et al., 2014; de Souza et al., 2012).