Filariasis is a water-borne disease

Pathogens worldwide

Filariasis are worm diseases caused by roundworms (so-called filariae). There are different types of roundworms that live outside the intestine under the skin, in the connective tissue or in blood and lymph vessels. Here they cause different complaints and clinical pictures. Serious disease courses can be observed especially in the local population due to long-term, recurring infections.


Transmission:

Filariasis is transmitted through mosquito or horsefly bites. The medina worm infestation is an exception. Filariasis poses only a low risk for travelers, as the low worm density that builds up during transmission and short travel times usually does not result in serious health problems.


Protection:

Good mosquito repellent.


elephantiasis

Elephantiasis is caused by roundworms (so-called Wucheria and Brugia species) that attack the human lymphatic system. This leads to the destruction of the lymphatic system, so that the lymphatic fluid can no longer drain and builds up in the affected parts of the body. The clinical picture shows massive swelling of the testicles, feet and legs. Normal walking is often difficult as a result. Approximately 80 million people are infected with lymphatic nematodes. Infection areas are tropical regions with high humidity. About two thirds of the infections take place in China, India and Indonesia.


Transmission:

Different types of mosquitoes are carriers. For travelers, elephantiasis only represents a low risk, as the low worm density, which can be built up during a short journey, usually does not result in any serious health problems.


Protection:

Good mosquito repellent.


River blindness

River blindness (so-called onchocerciasis) is caused by roundworms (so-called Onchocerca volvulus, filariae). Skin lumps and other skin changes typically occur. In the further course it can lead to eye disorders and blindness.


Transmission:

The river blindness is transmitted by the bite of the black fly, which breeds on rivers and streams in Africa, Central and South America and Asia. It is estimated that there are around 18 million infected people worldwide. However, this worm infestation is a rare disease for travelers.


Protection:

Good mosquito repellent.


Loiasis

The loiasis is caused by loa loa. This type of roundworm occurs in the west and central African rainforest area. When worms are infected by this so-called "wandering filament", there is alternating swelling of the subcutis, especially on the forearms, the back of the hands and on the face (so-called "Calabar" or "Cameroon swelling"). These worms can also migrate into the conjunctiva of the eyes, but usually do not cause serious damage here.


Transmission:

The loiasis is transmitted through horsefly bites. However, this worm infestation is a rare disease for travelers.


Protection:

Good mosquito repellent.


Medina worm infestation

The medina worm (Dracunculus medinensis) can be up to a meter long and nests in the connective tissue, usually in the leg. When it comes into contact with water, it pierces the skin to lay its larvae. Usually the worm is only then visible and the infestation is recognized. The safest and most traditional method consists in slowly winding the worm around a stick in order to pull it out of your own body. It is very important to proceed carefully so that the worm does not tear off and the associated high risk of infection is avoided. The medina worm infestation is very rare overall and only a theoretical risk for travelers, which in practice has not been reported anywhere in recent years.


Transmission:

By drinking water from wells and other open watering holes, the larvae can be transmitted.


Protection:

Good drinking water hygiene. If necessary, filtering the drinking water.


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