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Health News Thu, 9 Dec 2010

Regional Health Directorate fights Elephantiasis

Accra, Dec. 09, GNA - The Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service will from December 13 to 17 embark on a mass drug administration exercise against Lymphatic Filariasis also known as Elephantiasis.

The drug, Albendazole and Ivermectin would be administered to people above five years with the height from 90cm and above.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday, Dr David Antwi, Deputy Regional Health Director, however said pregnant women, lactating mothers, and the seriously ill patients would be exempted.

Dr Antwi said the exercise was aimed at getting rid of the parasites from the systems of infected people and also prevent others from getting infected.

Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasite disease caused by a

microscopic thread like worm and it is spread from person to

person through mosquito bites. Dr Antwi explained that when a mosquito bit a person who has

lymphatic filariasis, the microscopic worms circulating in the

person's blood would infect the mosquito. The worms however live for five to seven years in the person. He noted that people with the worm in their blood could also

infect others through repeated mosquito bites over several months. In Greater Accra, the endemic districts are Ledzokuku Krowor,

Ga West, East, South, Ayawaso, La, Ablekuma and Ashiedu

Keteke. He expressed concern about the absence of a reliable data on

the prevalence of the diseases because infected people do not report

to the hospital "maybe they know or think there is no treatment or

cure for it". Giving the symptoms of diseases, Dr Antwi said most people

infected were asymptomatic and would never develop the disease's

clinical symptoms despite the fact that the parasite damages the

lymph systems. He said the lymphedema was caused by improper functioning of

the lymph system resulting in fluid collection and swelling mostly in

the legs but could also affect the arm, breast, and the genitalia whilst

most people develop those clinical signs years after being infected. "The skin becomes hard and thick and that is called elephantiasis

due to increase in the bacterial infections in the skin and lymph

system. Men with the disease develop hydrocele or swelling of the

scrotum", he added. He urged people to protect themselves from being infected by

avoiding mosquito bites especially at dusk and dawn and sleep

under treated mosquito nets. 9 Dec. 10

Source: GNA