Following the launch of a nationwide Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaign aimed at ending disease transmission of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), Karnataka’s focus is on selected pockets of Vijayapura, Bidar and Kalaburagi. Karnataka is one among the ten high-burden States in the country, with 12,000 chronic cases of LF.
The campaign will be carried out through door-to-door administration of anti-filarial drugs in these districts where transmission rate is more than the threshold level of one microfilaria. All those above two years of age, except pregnant women and ailing persons, will be administered the antifilarial drugs.
What is lymphatic filariasis?
Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a neglected tropical disease. Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through Culex mosquitoes. Infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
The painful and disfiguring visible manifestations of the disease, lymphoedema, elephantiasis and scrotal swelling (hydrocele) occur later in life and can lead to permanent disability. These patients are not only physically disabled, but suffer mental, social and financial losses contributing to stigma and poverty.
State Health Commissioner Randeep D told The Hindu that so far, every State was undertaking the MDA activities on dates decided by the State health authorities. “From this year onwards, the campaign will be taken up on a mission mode to eliminate LF by 2027, three years ahead of the global target. We have adopted a multi-pronged approach with an MDA round in two phases every year — from February 10 and August 10 — as per the Centre’s guidelines,” he said.
During the campaign, the focus will be on intensive monitoring at block level. Education institutions, offices, banks, industries and other congregated areas will be covered followed by coverage of household members through door-to-door visits by ASHAs and para-medical staff.
Mohammed Sharief, State Programme Officer for National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), said the campaign has been launched in two blocks of Vijayapura as the transmission is more than one microfilaria here. Subsequently, it began in select blocks in Bidar and Kalaburagi districts. “Covering a population of 20 lakh, this campaign will go on till March 15 in these districts,” he said.
Of the nine endemic districts — Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Bagalkot, Raichur, Vijayapura, Bidar, Kalaburagi and Yadagir — the threshold level of less than one microfilaria rate has been achieved in Uttar Kannada, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and parts of Raichur, Vijayapura and Bagalkot.
“Despite the continuing transmission, we have not seen any full-blown fresh cases since the last seven years. But some pockets of Vijayapura, Bidar, Kalaburgi and Yadgir continue to remain a challenge,” Dr. Sharief said.