Health Desk--- July 24, 2016: It is a matter of great joy that Bangladesh has made significant success in curbing filariasis as most of the affected districts are now entirely free from this tropical disease.
By rendering pragmatic treatment protocol from the state-owned hospitals, the health ministry has managed to rid 15 districts of filariasis during the period in between 2011 and 2015.
There were 19 filariasis-prone districts in 2011, but people are still being infected with it in the remaining four districts.
Filariasis is characterized by fever, chills, headache, and skin lesions in the early stages and, if untreated, can progress to include gross enlargement of the limbs and genitalia in a condition called elephantiasis.
Applauding the government success, Dr Muhammad Abdus Sabur, a noted public health expert, said the prevention of filariasis has led to a sharp decline in the number of filarial patients.
“This is a vector-borne disease caused by one type of mosquito. Lymphatic filariasis is common in the country and this disease is caused by the presence of thread-like worms, called filaria, in the lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes of the body,” he said.
He also said that lymphatic filariasis most commonly occurs in the developing countries with a tropical climate.
Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori are the specific worms that cause the infection. The larvae enter the body at the time of mosquito bite and travel to the lymphatic system, where they mature into adult worms.
The adult worms can live for years in the lymphatic system, and they produce immature forms that circulate in the blood, Dr Sabur said.
A senior clinician of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) said filariasis gradually leads to disability and attacks the lung and the kidney although this disease is preventable and curable and the government is paying due attention for the prevention of this disease.
“The best way to prevent lymphatic filariasis is to avoid mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that carry the microscopic worms usually bite during the dusk and the dawn. If any one lives in an area with lymphatic filariasis, he or she should sleep inside a mosquito net,” he added.
When contacted, Dr Shamsuddin, Director, (disease control) of Directorate of Health Services, said that they have made laudable success in tackling filariasis in different districts.
There is only one filaria hospital across the world that is located at Syedpur, a northern part of the country, which means that the government is paying due attention to the disease, he added.
Dr Shamsuddin further said they have already started giving treatment to filarial patients from community clinics for the convenience of people, which can help eliminate filariasis from the four districts.