Lymphatic filariasis causes devastating social and economic losses

November 21, 2007

Sri Lankans infected with lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis) experience severe loss of income, social isolation, and devastating stigma resulting in emotional distress, delayed diagnosis, and avoidance of treatment. These were the findings of a new study by Myrtle Perera (Marga Institute, Sri Lanka), David Molyneux (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK) and colleagues in the recently launched open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a tropical parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes extreme swelling of the limbs and male genitals. Despite recent successes in preventing the transmission of LF, say the authors, some 40 million people worldwide who already have the disease have been largely neglected by public health policy makers.

If effective disease control interventions are to be successfully implemented, the researchers propose, the full extent of the disability must be understood. In order to inform future interventions and policy measures, the study sought a greater understanding of the consequences of the disease for individuals and their families, the barriers they face to accessing care, and their coping strategies.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 60 people with LF in southern Sri Lanka. The participants described how the social isolation from stigma caused emotional distress and delayed diagnosis and treatment. Free treatment services at government clinics were avoided because the participants' condition would be identifiable in public.

One participant said: "I am mentally broken down and do not know how long I can live like this, shunned and rejected and confined to this house."

While many aspects of the disease such as risk of infection and access to treatment facilities varied according to economic status, loss of income due to the condition was reported by all households in the sample, across all income levels. Households that were already relying on low incomes before infection were pushed into near destitution.

The authors call for an expansion of LF control programs beyond measures to break the transmission of disease. "Even if the LF elimination program is successful in arresting transmission of the disease so that there are no new cases," they say, "hundreds of thousands of people in Sri Lanka will continue to suffer clinical manifestations of the disease and will remain trapped in poverty. The affected households will need help and support for many years despite transmission having been arrested."
-end-
CITATION: Perera M, Whitehead M, Molyneux D, Weerasooriya M, Gunatilleke G (2007) Neglected Patients with a Neglected Disease" A Qualitative Study of Lymphatic Filariasis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 1(2): e128. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000128

CONTACT:

David Molyneux (UK)
Office: +44- (0)151-705-3291 and +44- (0)151-705-3145
Mobile: 07780991824

Margaret Whitehead (UK)
+44-(0) 151-794-5280 and +44-(0)151-794-5576

PLOS

Related Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

CLCN6 identified as disease gene for a severe form of lysosomal neurodegenerative disease
A mutation in the CLCN6 gene is associated with a novel, particularly severe neurodegenerative disorder.

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

Potential link for Alzheimer's disease and common brain disease that mimics its symptoms
A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital uncovered a group of closely related genes that may capture molecular links between Alzheimer's disease and Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy, or LATE, a recently recognized common brain disorder that can mimic Alzheimer's symptoms.

Antioxidant agent may prevent chronic kidney disease and Parkinson's disease
Researchers from Osaka University developed a novel dietary silicon-based antioxidant agent with renoprotective and neuroprotective effects.

Tools used to study human disease reveal coral disease risk factors
In a study published in Scientific Reports, a team of international researchers led by University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa postdoctoral fellow Jamie Caldwell used a statistical technique typically employed in human epidemiology to determine the ecological risk factors affecting the prevalence of two coral diseases--growth anomalies, abnormalities like coral tumors, and white syndromes, infectious diseases similar to flesh eating bacteria.

Disease-aggravating mutation found in a mouse model of neonatal mitochondrial disease
The new mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variant drastically speeds up the disease progression in a mouse model of GRACILE syndrome.

Human longevity largest study of its kind shows early detection of disease & disease risks
Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI) announced the publication of a ground-breaking study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

30-year study identifies need of disease-modifying therapies for maple syrup urine disease
A new study analyzes 30 years of patient data and details the clinical course of 184 individuals with genetically diverse forms of Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD), which is among the most volatile and dangerous inherited metabolic disorders.

Long-dormant disease becomes most dominant foliar disease in New York onion crops
Until recently, Stemphylium leaf blight has been considered a minor foliar disease as it has not done much damage in New York since the early 1990s.

Read More: Disease News and Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.