Unknown to many, there are some 200,000 Filipinos who have to think twice about stepping out of the confines of their homes because doing so poses too many complications. Not only will they be subjecting themselves to unwanted stares and uncouth remarks, they would also be reminded of how their disease, lymphatic filariasis (LF), has put a limit on their lives.
Although not considered a big issue in the suburbs, LF is regarded as the second most debilitating disease in the provinces. LF is a tropical parasitic disease caused by thread-like worms (filariae) that live in the human lymphatic system. While rarely fatal, LF can cause recurring infections, fevers, severe inflammation of the lymph system, and a lung condition called tropical pulmonary eosinophilia (TPE).
LF may also result in a condition called elephantiasis, which causes parts of the body to become grossly swollen, leading to severe disfigurement, decreased mobility, and long-term disability. All these complications start from a bite of a microfilariae-carrying mosquito, which transfers the parasitic worms to humans.
Efforts have been made to control the disease by tackling the mosquito vectors. But eliminating the mosquitoes that carry the LF-causing parasitic filarial worms Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi have so far been ineffective because of the long life span of the parasite (4-8 years). Studies have found that the infection remains in the community for a long period of time