R. UMESH CHANDRAN, TDR, WHO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY R. UMESH CHANDRAN, TDR, WHO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Filariasis patients. Filariasis patients queue at a village clinic in South India. One man has elephantiasis of the right leg. Filariasis is caused by parasitic worms spread by blood-sucking insects. The worms invade the lymphatic system and can grow up to 50cm long, producing thousands of larvae that spread around the body. Repeated infection causes inflammation of lymph vessels and accumulation of fluid, which can lead to enormous enlargement of parts of the body (elephantiasis). The larvae of some species invade the eye, causing blindness. Treatment involves a course of the drug diethylcarbamazine, which is usually effective.
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