Filarial worms that infect blood and tissues of man and other animals
Adults can live for up to 15 years in the human host
Larval stages known as microfilariae (what see in clinical specimens)
Immune response can lead to symptoms
Species with microfilariae in the blood
Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia bancrofti (causing lymphatic filariasis)
Loa loa causing Loiasis
Mansonella perstans, Mansonella ozzardi
Species with microfilariae in the skin
Onchocerca volvulus causing onchocerciasis
Diagnosis of LF and Loa loa:
Find mfs in the blood
Thick blood films
DEC for LF, LL
Ivermectin for onchocerciasis
Filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by an infection with roundworms of the Filarioidea type. These are spread by blood-feeding insects such as black flies and mosquitoes. They belong to the group of diseases called helminthiases.
These parasites exist in the wild in subtropical parts of southern Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, and parts of South America. One does not acquire them in the Northern Hemisphere like Europe or the US.
Eight known filarial worms have humans as a definitive host. These are divided into three groups according to the part of the body they affect:
Lymphatic filariasis is caused by the worms Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori. These worms occupy the lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes; in chronic cases, these worms lead to the syndrome of elephantiasis.
Subcutaneous filariasis is caused by Loa loa (the eye worm), Mansonella streptocerca, and Onchocerca volvulus. These worms occupy the layer just under the skin. L. loa causes Loa loa filariasis, while O. volvulus causes river blindness.
Serous cavity filariasis is caused by the worms Mansonella perstans and Mansonella ozzardi, which occupy the serous cavity of the abdomen. Dirofilaria immitis, the dog heartworm, rarely infects humans.
The adult worms, which usually stay in one tissue, release early larval forms known as microfilariae into the person's blood. These circulating microfilariae can be taken up during a blood meal by an insect vector; in the vector, they develop into infective larvae that can be spread to another person.
Individuals infected by filarial worms may be described as either "microfilaraemic" or "amicrofilaraemic", depending on whether microfilariae can be found in their peripheral blood. Filariasis is diagnosed in microfilaraemic cases primarily through direct observation of microfilariae in the peripheral blood. Occult filariasis is diagnosed in amicrofilaraemic cases based on clinical observations and, in some cases, by finding a circulating antigen in the blood.