Lymphatic Filariasis is a disease of the immune system that causes extreme swelling of the limbs, breasts, and genitals. Next to mental illness, the disease is the leading cause of disability in the world. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people are at risk for contracting LF.
Most people are infected with LF during childhood but the disease takes years to manifest physically. When it finally does, LF causes extreme pain, discomfort, and makes it difficult if not impossible to work. There is a large stigma around LF and those affected face social ostracization. LF leads to hardship due to loss of income, increased medical expense, and isolation-induced depression.
How it spreads
Microfilariae, the larvae of the parasitic worm that causes LF, circulate through the bloodstream. Once the Microfilariae reach the lymphatic system, the larvae grow into the adult worms that cause LF. A mosquito bites someone with LF, thus getting infected with microfilariae, and spreads it to the next person it bites.
The Haiti Program’s current strategy for nationwide LF elimination draws on a strategy of producing and distributing DEC-fortified salt products in targeted communes to complement pill-based mass drug administration.