- Lymphatic filariasis, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease caused by tiny thread-like worms that live in the human lymph system. Best known from dramatic photos of people with grossly enlarged or swollen arms and legs. The parasitic worms responsible for the disease include Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and B. timori. The disease currently affects 120 million people worldwide, and 40 million of these people have serious disease. When an infected female mosquito bites a person, she may inject the worm larvae, called microfilariae, into the blood. The microfilariae reproduce and spread throughout the bloodstream, where they can live for many years. Often disease symptoms do not appear until years after infection. As the parasites accumulate in the blood vessels, they can restrict the circulation and cause fluid to build up in surrounding tissues. The most common, visible signs of infection are excessively enlarged arms, legs, genitalia, and breasts. Medicines to treat lymphatic filariasis are most effective when used soon after infection. The disease is difficult to detect early. Improved treatment and laboratory tests are needed. A vaccine is not yet available. Also see Lymphatic filariasis.
* * *Hypertrophy, edema, and fibrosis of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, especially of the lower extremities and genitalia with hydrocele, or enlargement of a limb, usually caused by long-standing obstructed lymphatic vessels, most commonly the result of years of infection by the filarial worm Wuchereria bancrofti or Brugia malayi. SEE ALSO: filariasis. SYN: elephant leg. [G. fr. elephas, elephant]- congenital e. congenital enlargement of one or more of the limbs or other parts, due to dilation of the lymphatics. See also entries under hereditary lymphedema, congenital type.- e. neuromatosa enlargement of a limb due to diffuse neurofibromatosis of the skin and subcutaneous tissue.- e. scroti brawny swelling of the scrotum as a result of chronic lymphatic obstruction. SYN: lymph scrotum, parasitic chylocele.- e. telangiectodes hypertrophy of the skin and subcutaneous tissues accompanied by and dependent upon dilation of the blood vessel s.
* * *el·e·phan·ti·a·sis .el-ə-fən-'tī-ə-səs, -.fan- n, pl -a·ses -.sēz enlargement and thickening of tissues specif the enormous enlargement of a limb or the scrotum caused by obstruction of lymphatics by filarial worms of the genus Wuchereria (W. bancrofti) or a related genus (Brugia malayi)
* * *n.gross enlargement of the skin and underlying connective tissues caused by obstruction of the lymph vessels, which prevents drainage of lymph from the surrounding tissues. Inflammation and thickening of the walls of the vessels and their eventual blocking is commonly caused by the parasitic filarial worms Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi. The parts most commonly affected are the legs but the scrotum, breasts, and vulva may also be involved. Elastic bandaging is applied to the affected parts and the limbs are elevated and rested. Larval forms in the blood are killed with diethylcarbamazine. See also filariasis.
* * *el·e·phan·ti·a·sis (el″ə-fən-tiґə-sis) [Gr. elephas elephant + -iasis] 1. lymphedema secondary to chronic obstruction of lymphatic vessels, with hypertrophy of the skin and subcutaneous tissues (pachyderma), usually of a lower limb or the scrotum. It is a filarial disease generally seen in the tropics due to infection of the lymphatics with any of the nematodes Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, or B. timori. It begins with lymphangitis and enlargement of the part, along with chills and fever (elephantoid fever); this is followed by formation of ulcers and tubercles, with thickening, discoloration, and fissuring of the skin. See also bancroftian filariasis and Malayan filariasis, under filariasis. 2. hypertrophy and thickening of the tissues from any cause .elephantiasic adj
Elephantiasis of the leg and scrotum.
Medical dictionary. 2011.