Treatment and Control

Several microfilaricidal drugs exist; the most effective is diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC), first used in 1947. This drug also kills adult worms. When DEC is used in conjunction with a comprehensive mosquito control plan, the rate of W. bancrofti infection in an area declines dramatically. Mosquito control alone is not highly effective because of the long reproductive life of the adult worms in human lymphatics. Behavioral measures, such as wearing clothes that leave little of the body exposed to mosquitoes, avoiding outdoor gatherings at night, and avoiding outdoor work at peak mosquito biting times, also help to reduce transmission of the disease, but these measures are difficult to implement (Beaver et al. 1984; Mak 1987; Manson-Bahr and Bell 1987).

Surgical treatment of elephantiasis does not permanently cure the problem, though removal of thickened skin and extra tissue from the affected area generally relieves the patient's burden. Pressure bandaging of affected lower limbs helps reduce swelling.

Once a person is infected with W. bancrofti, prognosis depends on the extent and nature of the infection, reexposures to the parasite, and the body's reaction to the infection. Chronic cases have a poor prognosis.

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