Elephantiasis resurfaces among migrant workers in Mysuru

Are migrant workers employed in Mysuru carrying Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) disease, also known as elephantiasis?

The Department of Health and Family Welfare in Mysuru has come across 11 LF cases last year and five cases so far this year after conducting blood tests on the labourers, visiting their work sites and settlements.

Deadline extended

The incidence of the disease has come at a time when the authorities were in the process of declaring Mysuru as “non-endemic” to Filariasis. The disease is not completely eradicated in the country and the target for its elimination was getting stretched with the report of new cases. Now, the target is to make India free from elephantiasis by 2020.

The migrant populations were screened at night in their camps, with the mobile health teams seeking the blood smears. The teams consisted of doctors and health workers, and a mobile lab for on-the-spot tests. As of now, more than 5,000 migrant workers had undergone screening. Medicines are distributed to the affected persons.

The workers who underwent tests were those hailing from Bihar, Jharkhand and other States. Last year, 11 cases had been reported and five cases had been detected during the survey on elephantiasis conducted so far this year.

Blood smear tests are done to detect microscopic worms in the bloodstream.

This is perhaps for the first time after a long gap that the authorities have come across the prevalence of the disease.

Periodic screening

District Vector Borne Diseases Control Officer Chidambar told The Hindu: “It takes about 11 years for the disease to reach full-blown stage in an infected person. Therefore, periodic screening is important since the person will not come to know that he was carrying the disease until he or she developed the symptoms. The disease affects the legs and causes disfigurement. The disease disables the people and sometime makes them bedridden.”

Dr. Chidambar said the disease is not life threatening but it can affect the morale of the person since it makes him or her immobile because of swollen legs and darkening of skin. “The disease may result in social stigma as well,” he pointed out.


The officer said the screening had been intensified in the wake of the positive cases. “Wherever the migrant workers are found to be working, we go there with our team for periodic screening in the night.”

“The filarial worms that enter the blood stream and grow after a bite from an infected mosquito (culex mosquito) affect the lymph system. It causes severe swelling of the legs and other organs as well,” he explained.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 2:44:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/elephantiasis-resurfaces-among-migrant-workers-in-mysuru/article27192833.ece

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